How To Photograph The Sun Through Your Telescope
If you have a telescope you can use it during the day as well, to view the sun. No you won’t go blind, not if you use a proper astro solar filter. To view the sun through a telescope you must use a solar filter designed for your model of telescope. On my own telescope, a Celestron Nexstar 8SE, I use a solar filter to take photos of the sun on clear days. Even though the sun is still bright through the clouds, you need clear days to view solar phenomenon such as sunspots. Since we are just now entering into a period of very high solar activity, known as sunspot cycle #24, there will be lots of opportunities to look at our nearest star. Many amateur astronomers forget that we have one of the easiest to view stars right here at home.
Below are some photos of the sun taken with amateur telescopes.
Most often what you will see when you look at the sun through a telescope with a solar filter, like the photos of the sun above taken through a Celestron Nexstar 8SE, are sunspots. Sunspots are areas of disturbance on the surface of the sun and create phenomenon on earth such as radio interference, power grid blackouts, weather changes, etc.
There are solar telescope filters available for many models of telescopes. The one I use is the Celestron Astro Solar filter, seen below. Similar models are available for all sizes of Celestron telescopes. You will need to take good care of them, since they are made of thin mylar and can by punctured easily. You should keep the box that your telescope solar filter came in for storage or buy a custom made case.
Don’t Miss Sunspot Cycle #24
The sunspot cycle waxes and wanes in an 11 year cycle. From 2010 to 2014 it will be in full swing with lots of sunspots to view through your telescope up close. You must use a telescope solar filter, or you will damage your eyes permanently. Taking photos of the sun is easy. You just need the right adapter for your camera and to set your aperture very small and shutter speed fast. Experiment with different shutter speed and aperture combinations when taking photos of the sun through your telescope.
How To Align A Telecope With a Solar Filter
Aligning your telescope using a solar filter to view the sun can be very tricky. Use the red laser dot in the view finder, but don’t go all the way into view of the sun. Wear dark sunglasses and never, ever look directly at the sun. The view through your telescope using a solar filter will be totally dark until you are locked in on the sun. It may take a few minutes of panning and tilting to locate the sun in the eyepiece. Use a wide angle eyepeice, such as a 25 mm or larger Plossl lens. Viewing the sun through a telescope can be fun and add a new dimension to your viewing, just be sure to stay safe and never use a damaged filter or look directly at the sun when aiming your telescope. Never view the sun through a telescope without an approved solar filter attached.
What Kind Of Telescope To Use To View The Sun and Sunspots
Any of the newer Go To type telescopes, which once calibrated go directly to celestial objects and track them, are capable of solar filters. The Nexstar SE series, which goes from 4″ up to 8″, are all solar filter capable, with filters costing around $55.