Sunspot observations April 2011

In April, I made sunspot observations allways when possible. In total, I managed to make observations in 10/30 days. I made my observations in Sodankylä, Northern Finland with my new 102/1000mm refractor. I wasn’t able to see any naked eye sunspots in April. The mean sunspot number in April 2011 according to my observations is 49,9. Here are my observatios as a table (Time: GMT +2):

Below you can see a graphical presentation of my sunspot observations in April 2011:


Do it yourself -solar filter

When I purchased my new telescope, I also bought a sheet of Baader Astrosolar film for solar observations. I made a cheap and easy solar filter out of Astrosolar film and cardboard. In this post, I will show how to do a similar solar filter by yourself!

For making a solar filter like this you will need:
– 1 sheet of astrosolar film (for example size A4)
– 2 A4 size sheets of cardboard
– glue
– tape
– ruler
– drafting compass
– pencil
– scissors

Phase 1.
First, measure the inner diameter of your telescope. Cut large enough piece of Astrosolar film, it should be at least as big as your scope’s diameter is, but it is convenient to make it somewhat bigger.

Phase 2.
Cut one cardboard sheet in half, then determine the center point of both sheets. Then draw a symmetrical circle (as in picture 1.) around the central point and cut holes in the cardboards along the circle (as in picture 2.).

Phase 3.
Take the other cardboard form and cut it in half. Then put them side by side along their short side. Roll the cardboards into a tube (as in picture 3.) and try it on your scope. The cardboard tube should be tight enough to prevent the filter slipping of in windy weather. After you have tried the tube on your scope, glue the pieces of this tube together. You can use tape to make the seam stronger. Then cut ~1” long and 1,5” wide “winglets” with even spacing in the other end of the tube (as in picture 4.).

Phase 4. Open the winglets and put small drop of glue in the bottom sides of each winglet. Then attach one of the cardboards with hole in this tube with winglets (as in picture 5.). You can make the attachment stronger with tape. Then put this tube on board so that the cardboard with hole is on the top. Then put small amount of glue in it. Take the Astrosolar film, and put it carefully on the glued face of the cardboard (as in picture 6.). Then take the other cardboard with hole and put glue on it and place it on the Astrosolar film. Be very careful in this step to avoid any stains and wrinkles in the Astrosolar film (as in picture 7.)! Then you can tape the edges of the cardboard to make it stronger. And then you are finished!

Now you are ready to start your safe solar observing with your new DIY solar filter (which should look like the one in picture 8.)!

A new telescope

I had long been thinking to buy a telescope suitable for observing the objects of our Solar system. I had several different possibilities in my mind, but after all I decided to invest 500 € in Celestron Omni XLT 102, which is a achromat refractor with 102mm lens and focal ratio 9,8 and with CG 4 german equatorial mount. I bought that scope from Ylva Astronomy, which is a small finnish company that is importing and selling amateur astronomy equipment in Finland. Last time I bought a SQM -L device from Ylva, and I had very good service and short delivery time, and that was also the case now!

Okay, so I received a delivery notification by SMS -message. Then I went to the Matkahuolto customer service place at bus station in Sodankylä (the parcels were delivered by Matkahuolto, a bus and a logistics company) and picked up the parcels (in total three parcels). In first parcel was the telescope itself, and in second was the mount of the scope and in third was the Baader Astrosolar arc for solar observations. All parts of this delivery were well packed and all parts that should be in the packets were there.

The setting up of the scope was relatively easy and intuitive, though I had to see the manual for help few times. The mount of the scope seems to be very rigid and functional. The only slight problem is with the polar alignment. It should be possible to adjust the declination axis along the geographical latitude of observer in any place of the globe. But with this scope it is limited to ~20° – 60° so you cannot do the polar alignement properly near the Equator or the Poles. And because my current latitude is 67, I’m out of the adjustment range. This is luckily only slight problem, because I’m not planning to use the scope for astro photography (a field of amateur astronomy, where proper polar alignment is important).

And of course, when you buy a new telescope, it’s cloudy, because a new telescope in the house is very effective cloud magnet! And that is the case also this time. So I haven’t yet experienced the first light with this scope, and thus I cannot say anything about the quality of optics, yet!

Here are some photos of the setting up process of this scope:

Setting up of the scope took time about 45 minutes.

Report from Tähtipäivät 2011

Tähtipäivät -amateur astronomy event was organized in Turku by Turun Ursa. The event site was at the University of Turku. In the event, there were lectures aimed to great audience given for example by Jari Mäkinen (science author), Hannu Karttunen (astronomer) and Marianna Ridderstad (archeoastronomer).

There was also a fair -type area, where different kinds of astronomy hobbyists and groups related to astronomy hobby were displaying and presenting their activities. Groups that were participating were: Salon Seudun UrSalo (amateur astronomy club in Salo, SW Finland), Deep Sky Section of Ursa, Alnilam (astronomy gift shop), Kirkkonummen komeetta (amateur astronomy club in Kirkkonummi, southern Finland), Jyväskylän Sirius (astronomy club in Jyväskylä, central Finland) and of course Turun Ursa and the national Ursa. There were also the transportable planetary of Ursa, where sky presentations were given.

The amount of public in the event was perhaps a slightly lower tha expected. The public lectures were quite popular, and some people were also interested in the fair displays, including the Deep Sky Section.

The Tähtipäivät evening celebration was orgnized in a place called Sinitaivssali (Blue sky hall), which is a place that has originally been a ceremony hall of Free masoners. The hall had a blue roof with stars in it! A really beautiful place! In the event, Stella Arcti -awards were given to three merited amateur astronomers. The award winning hobbyists this time were: Jani Lauanne and Aki Taavitsainen (category: notable observation) who had been able to photograph rare upper atmosphere lightning phenomenae for first time in Finland and Tapio Lahtinen (category: merits in long term observing work) for the merits of his amateur astronomical photography work.

The Stella Arcti -winning amateur astronomers: From left, Tapio Lahtinen, Aki Taavitsainen, Jani Lauanne


The Sinitaivassali and Sysiveljet on the stage

In the celebration, a band called Sysiveljet were also performing their music. Their music was quite loud rock music, and it was perhaps a slightly unusual choice when considering the audience of the event.

After all, this Tähtipäivät -event (which was actually my first time to participate to Tähtipäivät) was very succesful and memorable event! I had a chance to meet old and new amateur astronomy colleagues and to present the Deep Sky Observing to people!