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Sleep Is Over Rated

Posted by Dave Gede   05/11/2005 12:00AM

I have been doing white light solar observing for about 5 years. I enjoy watching sunspots evolve over a period of time. I never had a lot of interest in the h-alpha equipment out there.

That was until I could actually afford a piece of h-alpha equipment.

With the introduction of the PST, I watched closely to see how it would perform. How could a sub $500 h-alpha scope deliver anything? An interesting fact began to emerge. I did not see an extraordinary amount of used PST's for sale and the reviews all had the same basic conclusion...They were outstanding for the price.

After speaking with a resource at Anacortes I decided to go ahead purchase this little scope. I had no illusions about the quality of the image I was going to get. I knew there were issues with the image being small and in some cases even having a ghost image around the limb.

I got my scope and, as with everyone that buys one, had to wait the required two weeks for the sun to come back out. Finally, on a Thursday evening the sun popped below the clouds. I set up the PST on a good camera mount. The nice little embedded sol ranger had the sun in the fov in nothing flat. I put in the 12mm eyepiece that came with it and held my breath.

As I focused the image I could not believe what I was seeing. Prominences. Three of them. Hanging right off the limb. With a small twist of the tuning ring, I found amazing detail on the surface. Sun spots were no longer the focus. The amazing detail of the faculae, prominences and flares blew me away.

As I watched the prominences seemed to disappear. I found that as the image moved away from the center it changed. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But a simple tap of the scope to re-center the image brought back all the subtle detail.

The double image was there but did not cause me any trouble. It was not bright enough to wash out the prominences. In fact, if I had not been looking for it, I doubt I would have even noticed it.

I was thrilled at the views and with more magnification came more detail. I have used everything from a 40mm Plossl to a 6mm Radian. In each the image is clear, sharp and ever changing.

Since I got my PST I have done more solar observing than in the previous 5 years. I also love putting the white light filters next to the PST at public events and then explaining why the two look so different.

Thanks to the PST, I will now get no sleep at star parties.

Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.