Solar Viewing with Jim Chung

On Friday, October 10, 2014, I visited Dr. Jim Chung, who is an amateur astronomer, and a fellow Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) member, at his house. He invited me over so he could show me his solar filter. It is a glass based solar filter that lets in a safe amount of light to look at the sun.

Telescopes need a filter to look at the sun, because the telescope concentrates light. When you look into a concentrated sum beam, it would blind you. If you want to look at the sun, use proper protection!

I set up my telescope on his driveway, where we attached the solar filter, aimed it at the sun, and relished in the majesty of the sun. We saw a sunspot, and the filter worked perfectly. We set the telescope to track on the sun, and we went into his garage where he showed me his workspace.

I saw all the equipment he acquired over the years. It was quite extensive. There were lenses, diagonals, cameras, and many other objects. We returned to my telescope and saw that the scope has drifted greatly from the center, which means the tracking had failed. However, Jim believed that it works just fine, because there is a level of drifting that is acceptable for visual astronomy. However, it is unacceptable for astrophotography. Therefore, I wanted to get more information about making my telescope astrophotography-worthy.

I asked about auto guiders, and focal reducers. Jim told me about auto guiders and that alt-az telescopes (which is what I have), need a wedge to make it act like an equatorial mount. The wedge will correct for North-South drift once it was polar aligned, and the auto guider will take care of East-West drift. Jim soon showed me his the Alan Gee-Telecompressor mark 2 focal reducer, which he highly recommends. It seems like an interesting piece of equipment. We checked the telescope again, and the sun hid behind the clouds.

Therefore, we decided to call it a day. I packed up my scope, and thanked him for his time. In addition, Jim lent me his solar filter to observe the solar eclipse that came up. I thanked him and left his residence.

I had a great time hanging out with Jim. Since this happened over a month ago, my father and I were able to use the solar filter for a couple of events. My father was able to see the solar eclipse that happened on October 23, 2014, but he wasn’t able to find a good location to observe the eclipse from. A day later, I was able to image the large sunspot seen on the Sun. I hope to do more with the Solar Filter, but I will need to return it to Jim soon. Until I find a new one, happy observing!

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