Pam Spence Sun Observer's Guide

ISBN 13: 9781552979419

Sun Observer's Guide

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9781552979419: Sun Observer's Guide
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A practical day-by-day guide to observing the sun safely.

The Sun Observer's Guide is a practical guide that explains how to safely observe the sun: what to look for and how to record and photograph solar images and eclipses. The book is written in non-technical language and is ideal for novice observers.

Expensive equipment is not essential to observe the Sun, and the necessary safety procedures are easy to follow. The book describes the equipment required to observe the Sun using visible light technologies such as telescopes, binoculars, and simple pin-hole cameras, as well as non-white light devices such as spectroscopes and hydrogen-alpha filters.

How to photograph the Sun is explained in detail and includes:

  • Descriptions of the equipment required
  • Type of camera to choose
  • Which lenses and filters to use
  • Recommended exposure times.

A chapter dedicated to solar eclipses explains why they occur, what can be seen and how to observe them safely. Dates of upcoming eclipses are provided. The interaction between the Sun and the Earth is explored in detail - from the obvious (climates and seasons) to the dramatic (magnetic storms and aurora).

The Sun Observer's Guide concludes with a chapter on professional solar astronomy. Amateur astronomers will be fascinated to read about the research that is currently being undertaken and to discover the value placed by professional astronomers on observations made by amateurs. Beautiful images taken by solar spacecraft are displayed here.

The Sun Observer's Guide is an informative and practical introduction to an engaging hobby.

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About the Author:

Pam Spence is an astronomer, writer, editor and teacher. She appears on television and radio and has written three books as well as contributing to many others.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Why Observe the Sun?

The Sun is a star -- a huge, massive body generating energy from nuclear reactions in its core. Its importance to life on Earth cannot be underestimated: without the Sun, we would not exist. However, the Sun can also be harmful, and it needs to be monitored closely if we are to have the opportunity of forecasting any changes which might affect the Earth. Solar astronomy is one of the few remaining areas of astronomy in which amateurs can make observations which are of use to professionals, without the need for expensive equipment. All that is required is a small refracting telescope and a cardboard box!

This book is the ideal introduction to observing the Sun. It gives clear, step-by-step instructions on how to project the Sun's image safely using a small telescope or just binoculars. It explains the significance of what can be observed, and how observations can be made for personal enjoyment or for submitting to professional organizations, and describes how to photograph the Sun. There are chapters on the Sun's structure, the Sun--Earth interaction, solar eclipses, and professional solar astronomy conducted via spacecraft. An extensive glossary gives definitions of scientific terms used in the book.

The Sun dominates the Solar System, and also dominates life on Earth. Without the Sun's heat, light and energy, life on our planet would be impossible. All energy comes from the Sun -- even the fossil fuels we burn originally got their energy from the Sun. Luckily for us, the Sun will continue to give out heat and light for billions of years to come, but our environment exists on a knife-edge, and hence so does our survival. The Earth's atmosphere protects us from harmful solar radiation, but we are already having a detrimental effect on our protective blanket; we create chemicals and gases which break down protective layers in the atmosphere, and we are cutting down the vegetation that removes harmful carbon dioxide from the air.

The Sun's radiation output varies on a daily basis and also over longer periods of time. By observing the Sun we can help to predict the effect of solar activity on the Earth. The Sun's activity impinges on the Earth in many ways, from interfering with our communication systems to initiating major climate changes. There is still a great deal that is not understood about how the Sun affects the Earth, so by daily observing we can hope to increase our knowledge. Solar observing is one branch of astronomy where amateurs can make a significant contribution to the science. It is also an activity for which it is not necessary to possess the latest, largest and most expensive equipment. Indeed, smaller telescopes are better than larger ones for observing the Sun.

Observing the Sun is not difficult, but it does pose challenges. One aspect which has to be addressed is safety. The Sun is a very powerful source of light, heat and radiation. Even glancing at the Sun with the naked eye can cause permanent and serious damage to the eyes. If the Sun is observed directly without proper protection, blindness can result. The importance of observing safely cannot be overemphasized. Once the danger of the Sun is acknowledged and it is treated with the respect it deserves, solar observing can be made 100 per cent safe. By following simple and sensible precautions the danger is entirely removed. Never look directly at the Sun, with or without magnification, unless using adequate, safe and well maintained filters. Never leave any instrument pointed at the Sun unattended. Always supervise children and the general public when they are near solar observing equipment. Further safety measures are given at the beginning of Chapter 3.

For obvious reasons, the Sun has always been of huge significance to humans. In ancient cultures the Sun was often the dominant god. When a solar eclipse cast its shadow, people were terrified and would do anything to appease the gods to bring the Sun back. The Sun was widely observed in ancient times. Its position in the sky dictated the yearly calendar and, astrologers believed, affected human affairs. There are records of sunspots being seen in ancient times. In the nineteenth century astronomers began to make daily records of the number of sunspots on the solar disk, but it was not until the twentieth century that their nature and significance were realized. A variety of solar phenomena are closely associated with sunspots, including solar "storms" -- huge outpourings of energy which, when it reaches the Earth, can knock out power grids over vast areas, fry satellites, and interfere with telecommunication systems.

Today, sophisticated instruments on board spacecraft monitor the Sun at all wavelengths of radiation, helping to predict when solar storms might strike, but solar observing is not just for the professionals or sophisticated spacecraft. Some of the closest collaboration between amateur and professional astronomers happens in solar astronomy. This is a field which is open to everyone. By following simple instructions, the amateur astronomer equipped with just binoculars or a small telescope can make observations which, submitted to an observing organization, can help the professionals uncover the secrets of the Sun. Observing the Sun is great fun and intriguing. There are few astronomical objects that change continually over the course of a few hours, few for which true and important science can be done with a minimum of equipment, and even fewer that can be observed outside the hours of darkness.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780540083930: Sun Observer's Guide (Philip's Astronomy)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0540083933 ISBN 13:  9780540083930
Publisher: Philip's OS Publications, 2004
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