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Solar Chromosphere Imaging
Sommers-Bausch Observatory, University of Colorado at Boulder
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| Live streaming of the solar
chromosphere was broadcast intermittently through May 19th -
daylight hours and weather permitting. Continuous imaging
began at Noon on May 20th 2012 with occasional
interruptions to utilize the heliostat in alternate modes.
Uninterrupted partial solar eclipse coverage started at 6 pm MDT. First contact occurs at 6:22 pm. The heliostat loses line-of-sight to the Sun around 7:18 pm (9 deg altitude) due to obstructions. Maximum eclipse (86%) occurs a few minutes later, at 7:30.
During the eclipse SBO may interact with the CU Folsom Stadium Eclipse Party in pointing out solar features; activity will be explained in the scrolling text.
Live stream by Ustream
| This free Ustream webcast is
paid for by the commercials which appear from time-to-time
on your screen.
Ustream Premium Members who log into their account can watch ad-free by searching for Colorado Astronomy and/or the channel SommersBauschObservatory Heliostat.
SBO is also streaming images of the solar photosphere on May 20th: see the SommersBauschObservatory Dome channel.
NOTE: Click the "enlarge" button, lower-right corner of the window, to view the solar image full-screen.
The Sun's light is focussed through a Halle-Lyot birefingent filter, which blocks all colors except the deep red light emitted by hydrogen atoms at temperatures of around 20,000K (degrees Kelvin). This light occurs at at a precise wavelength of 656.3 nanometers, and is known as "hydrogen-alpha" emission.
Images of the Sun at this wavelength show the tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun which overlies the cooler (6,000K) visible photosphere ("sphere of light") where sunspots occur. This region is called the chromosphere, meaning quite literally "the sphere of color" - the red color of the hydrogen atom emission.
Normally the chromosphere is only visible for a few brief minutes during a total solar eclipse, and then only that portion that exends beyond the edge (limb) of the Sun. Only in the last century have astronomers been able to see the chromosphere from "above", looking down onto the disk and at times other than during an eclipse.
Sommers-Bausch Observatory is renewing its 60-year-old mission as a solar observatory through its recent acquisition of a Halle H-alpha filter, once used to monitor the Sun for flares as part of a safety net for the Apollo lunar astronauts. The Observatory's acquisition of this exquisite filter made possible by the dedicated and enthusiastic efforts of Dr. Alan Kiplinger, and the the generosity of the Space Environment Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).