Ever present: rarely seen: the Sun

The solar disc captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011

The solar disc captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011. Click to enlarge and look at the surface texture. Wow!.

We have had a couple of sunny days of late, and together with the lengthening evenings this has uplifted my soul, and my eyes have turned frequently to gaze at the expansive blueness of the sky. And this reminded me of the shocking fact that although we see with light from the Sun, in our whole lives, we never really ‘see’ the Sun itself. Unless we own a solar telescope.

Now the prospect of becoming a father for the second time can do strange things to a man. And, my colleague and friend Peter Woolliams has been driven to the point of having to buy a new solar telescope to cope with the stress. And yesterday  he sent me the first fruits of his labours: three beautiful pictures of our Sun.

Solar Prominences captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011

Solar Prominences captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011. The Earth's diameter is approximately 1/80th of the diameter of the solar disc. Click to enlarge.

It’s one thing to gaze in awe at the pictures from the solar dynamics observatory, but its another to see something with one’s own eyes. And seeing these images captured by a friend with his webcam in his back garden in Teddington is the next best thing. Seeing the solar prominences, each many times the diameter of the Earth, and the turbulence of the surface layers so ever present, and yet so rarely seen – is literally- awesome.

Thanks Peter: Just a few more days and then it will be time to switch attention from Sun to Son! Good luck!

Detail of the solar surface captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011

Detail of the solar surface captured by Peter Woolliams on 23 March 2011. Click to enlarge.

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4 Responses to “Ever present: rarely seen: the Sun”

  1. Emma Woolliams Says:

    He was taking a well-earned rest during a “tidy up before baby comes” day at home… I must admit, I peeked through the telescope too – it’s beautiful!

  2. The mystery of sleep « Protons for Breakfast Blog Says:

    […] was reminded of the role of the Sun in our lives. Our lives and cultures are based around the action of sunlight on the Earth, and yet we never look […]

  3. eclipse2012 Says:

    What telescope did you use to get these amazing pictures – Coronado? What diameter. Sharpness and detail are great. Hope you know that later this year – in May – there will be an annular solar eclipse over western USA (Bryce, Great Canyon, Zion) and deep partial eclipse in most of the rest of the country. If you know anyone who wants to join us on the trip to Bryce Canyn N.P. to witness the eclipse please check out our plans on http://eclipses.eu and get in touch.

  4. Counting Sunspots: How hard can it be? | Protons for Breakfast Blog Says:

    […] Sun is ever present – but rarely seen because we – very sensibly – never look at it […]

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