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Solar Astronomy on a Budget

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Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 7
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:26 pm    Post subject: Solar Astronomy on a Budget Reply with quote

Solar Astronomy on a Budget
Here is an article I published for my local astronomical society:

If you’re interested in the sun (and why not? A gigantic inferno belching CMEs and burping radiation at us is nothing to sneeze about), then here’s an inexpensive alternative to pricey solar viewing.

Solar viewing through special filters, such as hydrogen-alpha filters or calcium filters give the most incredible images, but these amazing solar experiences usually require their own telescope (let alone filter system) to perform well under solar conditions. Recently, Coronado released a less-expensive, all-in-one-setup (Coronado PST). But it’s still more than my monthly allowance allows.

If you do own a telescope, then Thousand Oaks Optical ( can provide you with a best-fit glass solar filter for viewing the photosphere. But you still need a telescope.

SOHO’s website will provide you with free up-to-the-minute solar images, including current space weather and images of the photosphere, the magnetic field in the photosphere, two different solar corona images, and four different solar atmosphere wavelengths. Wow. But you still need a computer and internet access. (

In the glove box of my vehicle, next to the DMV registration and last week’s gum wrappers is an all-in-one, under $10, solar viewing system. All you need to add are eyeballs. It’s a cardboard-mounted Baader solar filter. It can be adapted to binoculars and telescopes in two minutes with a roll of duct tape.

You can easily purchase this mounted filter, made by Draco, in any size. Contact: (You can purchase large sheets and rolls from Astrophysics.) If you see a redheaded girl stopped on the side of the road, oddly staring at the sun through a piece of cardboard, pull over and join me in a quiet moment of awe and wonder. No batteries required.
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