You see? You see??! Have faith, everyone! The weather forecast was pretty poor for our Sunwatch, but in the end everything worked out fine!
The past few days the weather had been pretty poor, and the forecast for Saturday afternoon suggested we had about as much chance of seeing the Sun as there was of never seeing Katie Price or Peter Andre in The Sun again. But Saturday morning dawned bright and fresh, with lots of blue sky and a dazzlingly-bright Sun, so I was pretty confident we’d see something.
BBC Radio Cumbria’s Val Armstrong rang me for an on-air chat at 10am, which was, as always, great fun, and allowed me to plug the “Our Amazing Universe!” exhibition as well as promote the “Sunwatch”, so by the time 1pm came around, and there was still more blue sky than cloud, I was pretty sure our Sunwatch event would not be thwarted. However…
A quick look at the website I use for keeping an eye on activity on the Sun showed that there wasn’t a single sunspot to be seen on the Sun’s disc, it was blanker than the expression on my face than when I’m presented with a power tool, so I was very glad I’d invited the Cockermouth Astronomical Society’s Robin Leadbetter down to join us for the afternoon. My hope was that, even if the Sun’s face was featureless, his Coronado solar telescope would show some features on the limb of the Sun, such as prominences.
I got to the Abbot Hall Park just before 2pm – having sneakily put a couple of promotional posters up in Kendal town centre – but no-one else was there yet, so I was able to set up my trusty 4.5″ ‘scope in peace. Soon after tho the first visitors arrived, and I was able to show them a projected image of the Sun – showing absolutely NOTHING.
So I was very pleased when Robin arrived and set up his Coronado! And, phew, there were indeed a few prominences visible at the bottom of the solar disc…
Robin’s telescope was a huge hit, so I’m very grateful to him for coming down to join in with our event. He spent a lot of time explaining patiently to people there how his instruments worked, and talking people through the basics of spectroscopy too. Everyone seemed fascinated by the sight of the solar spectrum, and by the view of the Sun through the Coronado, too.
As luck would have it there was a wedding reception taking place at the Abbot Hall Community Centre on the edge of the park, and several of the wedding guests – clearly intrigued by what a bunch of nutters were doing standing around in the park, looking at the Sun! – wandered over to have a look, too. One of them was a member of an astronomical society from down south, so he was really glad he came over and was happy to meet members of EAS. Another of our visitors belonged to yet another astronomical society, so the Sunwatch ended up as something of a society meet-up!
It was also nice to see one of my friends from Twitter, “Bellatrixlestar”, who had travelled all the way up from Blackpool to attend the Sunwatch. Of course, EAS founder and fellow “Tweeter” Philip Stobbart was there too so I think the Snwatch qualified as a “Tweet Up” too!
People came and went through the two hours of the Sunwatch, as did the cloud, but during the clouded-out periods our visitors enjoyed just chatting with us about astronomy and space. But there’s no doubt that Robin’s Coronado solar telescope was the hit of the day, because it allowed us to see the Sun in glorious colour, and see some small feathery prominences on its limb too, so thanks Robin!
Here are some of the photos I took during the afternoon.
If you click on that last image you’ll see a larger version, and you’ll be able to pick out those prominences at 5 o’clock on the limb… beautiful! And just to give you an even clearer view, here’s a crop shoing the prominences…
Again, click on that image to bring up a full size version.
So, all in all it was a very succesful and enjoyable day! I think everyone who came along enjoyed it, and it was a great opportunity to share some views of the Sun with people, and promote the Society too. I handed out a lot of flyers for the exhibition at the Museum, too.
Thanks to everyone who came along, and a special Thank You! to Robin for coming down from West Cumbria to take part in our event.
For more photos of the Sunwatch see Philip Stobbart’s gallery, here… (Warning: the ones of me are absolutely ****** hideous, so thanks for that, Phil! )
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