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Solar Photosphere Imaging

Sommers-Bausch Observatory, University of Colorado at Boulder

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The Sun in White Light

Streaming of the solar photosphere is broadcast intermittently on May 19th, the day before the partial solar eclipse (daylight hours and weather permitting, of course).

Continuous imaging of the Sun began at Noon on May 20th MDT and continues throughout the eclipse until sunset.

First contact with the Moon occurs at 6:22 pm. Maximum eclipse happens at 7:30 pm, with 86% of the Sun's disk covered while only 7 degrees above the horizon. Sunset occurs about 15 minutes later, behind the foothills northwest of Boulder, only three degrees above the astronomical horizon.


Stream videos at 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 Dome.

SBO is also streaming images of the solar chromosphere on May 20th: see the SommersBauschObservatory Heliostat channel.


NOTE: Click the "enlarge" button, lower-right corner of the window, in order to view the solar image full-screen.

What You Are Seeing

You are looking at live images of the Sun from using a 4-inch refracting telescope mounted piggyback on the Observatory's 24-Inch B&C Cassegrain telescope. The refractor has a full-aperture covering of mylar filter which rejects approximately 99.99% of the sunlight, making it safe for the camera (and/or eyepiece viewers) to observe the Sun. Besides attenuating the brightness, however, the view is exactly the same as one would see with the naked eye (similarly protected), but merely enlarged for easy viewing.

Telescopes invert images top-to-bottom and left-to-right; hence, south is up in these images, and west is to the left. Users watching the eclipse with mylar sunglasses will see the first "bite" taken out of the Sun from its western (lower-right) edge of the Sun; that "bite" will appear at the left side of the image here.

"White light"images of the Sun show the visible atmosphere of the Sun known as the photosphere, or "sphere of light". Although gaseous throughout, the abrupt decrease in density and temperature (cooling to a mere 6,000 degrees Kelvin, hotter than a blast furnace) of the solar atmosphere here makes it appear that that the Sun has a solid surface. Almost all of the energy we receive from the Sun is last emitted from this region before it escapes into space - and reaches us.

Features in the Photosphere