Active Region 2765
In very difficult windy conditions I finally managed to do a drawing of Active Region 2765. It was the first decent sunspot region on the sun for a long time. Drawing active regions is a challenging activity and a rewarding one in equal measures. Challenging because they are complex visually. Rewarding because every time you try you have to invent new ways of using materials to gain traction on accuracy.
The previous day I had looked at AR 2765 and started a complex drawing using pastel particles. However, the wind made the telescope shake and the drawing became impossible. The shape of the active region was dramatic that day, with wonderful swirling shapes in the mottling around the penumbra. A long filament with clearly defined anchors added to the view. The drawing was abandoned in frustration over the wind and occasional showers of rain.
Next day I tried again, this time there was less wind to bother me. To maximise my chance of capturing AR 2765 I positioned myself behind the netting that surrounds our vegetable patch. This reduced the wind somewhat for the effort.
My Solar Telescope
For these kinds of drawings, I use a Personal Solar Telescope. It’s a basic model which is 400 mm long. My preferred eyepiece is an 8mm Tele Vue Plossl which gives me a magnification of 50X. If you are not familiar with this kind of telescope, it is only for looking at the sun. Nothing else is viewable in it because it has a special filter to only allow one wavelength of light from the sun to pass through. It allows only a minuscule fraction of light in a narrow waveband to come in. Therefore it makes it possible to look at the sun directly and safely.
With the small 40 mm objective and an 8 mm eyepiece, the solar disc occupies just about 20 mm in the view. Even though the active region maybe the size of the USA it is a fraction of the overall view. Depending on the stability of the atmosphere your view may be crystal clear or not.
One of the most difficult things to get right in a solar drawing is the mottling. To the eye, it is like a matrix of dots assembled in various shapes all over the solar disc. The dots display dramatic shapes close to active regions as they arrange themselves according to the influence of the moving active region. Each dot is a spicule which is bright when it is viewed on the solar limb. However, they are dark against the disc. Bundles of fibrils also make up the mottling. Tubes of hot plasma rising up offering us the tops of their columns. The areas of plage also tend to have dramatic moments of brightening from time to time. They often look like fat rivers of lava in the h-alpha view. They are associated with concentrations of magnetic activity.
I was interested in this AR because it had the potential to produce flares and it was Earth-facing. However, I only got one opportunity to observe and attempt a drawing. Because of the uncertain weather, I decided not to go for a lengthy drawing in pastel but to go for a pencil drawing instead.
However to enhance the drawing I used a luminous paper , as an experiment. The colour was as close to the h-alpha view as I have seen so far. I tried my best to capture the shapely mottling around the active region. Leaving the area where the plage was visible empty. This allowed it to exist by creating graphite marks around it.
Every shapely graphite mark in the drawing should be millions of dots. For the moment I am just able to capture the shapes. One day I will get it right until then the journey of solar sketching continues.