The forecast said a perfectly blue sky day with few clouds. However, in the west of Ireland, we take weather estimates with a grain of salt. The Atlantic often has other opinions on how my day goes. I planned to draw the entire solar disc because it had large active regions accompanied by long filaments, which was just for starters. Two spectacular prominences immediately caught my attention, one on each limb. For this blog I decided to only include one set from the West limb as I viewed.
I had drawn the entire solar disc before, which greatly satisfied me. That was several years ago, and now I can do a better job on it in the right conditions and with good action on the disc. It was clear blue skies as I looked out to sea. But the clouds glided in from the north that day, eating up the spaces between themselves carried by a cold breeze.
Fast-moving clouds and unstable conditions eliminated a complete solar disc drawing. However, I decided to try for the proms, making gifs showing their changes over time. Alas, the clouds only allowed two illustrations of each prom and its changing shapes. Not enough for a GIF, so the two drawings here are the later prom drawings over time.
Quick Draw Prominence
I had to work quickly to draw these proms as my viewing windows were just a few seconds/minutes long. Drawing like this reminded me of life drawing sessions many years ago. We used to draw the model in 30 seconds, then 1 minute, then 20 minutes and longer. It was always the case that the 30-second drawing captured the model’s shape and flow perfectly.
Some prominences can hold their shapes for hours, changing imperceptibly to the eye.
This prom behaved like an animation. If it were a clear day, it would have taken many drawings to show its movement sequence over even one hour. I do not see movement directly, but the action changes over minutes rather than hours. Like stop motion, a series of drawings tells the magnificent story of plasma dancing. In my second drawing below, I was amused and surprised to see a parallelogram shape had formed. Geometric shapes of that kind are unusual. There are always plenty of curves, loops within loops, twisting shapes, arcs, and long thin lines.
Later that day, one of the enormous filaments around Active Region 3429 erupted. It hurled a CME (coronal mass ejection) toward the Earth. Aurora displays on September 19th were visible from many countries, including Ireland. That eruption and description are in this link. My potential view of that display was blocked by clouds. However, some people were lucky to catch a glimpse for short periods.
Believe me when I say it is a privilege to observe our star, the mother of our solar system. You need a specialist telescope. Mine is tiny, a PST h-alpha with just an 8mm eyepiece and a 40 mm objective. What can be seen in this little instrument always amazes me—the best birthday gift I have ever been given.