As a local, community based astronomy club, the San Jose Astronomical Association mainly focuses on night time activities. After all, this is when the stars are out and viewing celestial objects is best.
There are, however, opportunities to conduct astronomical viewing during the day. Some people challenge themselves by trying to view brighter planets during the day. Or they see if they can view or even photograph the International Space Station against a blue daytime sky. But there is one huge object that sometimes doesn't get its due when it comes to amateur astronomy, that being our own star that powers us all, the Sun.
A post this week by SpaceWeather.com alerted readers to a huge sunspot that recently developed. The alert noted that "[o]ne of the biggest sunspot groups in many years has just emerged over the sun's eastern limb. The sunspot's magnetic canopy is crackling with M-class (medium-sized) solar flares and seems poised to launch even stronger X-class eruptions. The sunspot, named AR1339, is not yet directly facing Earth but it will be turning toward our planet in the days ahead." After a long time with little solar activity, it seems that the Sun is starting to wake up again, and sun spots and prominences will again be regular events viewable from the surface of the earth by amateur astronomers.
Lately, the SJAA Board of Directors has been discussing acquiring a solar telescope for the club's use. While it would not be slated as part of the Loaner Program fleet of telescopes, it would be available for club use during events such as school star parties, swap meets, auctions and other events. The board has a committee made up of Rich N. and Robert A. that is reviewing the options of solar scopes currently on the market. As always, the board welcomes input from SJAA members, so if you have suggestions, ideas or questions related to our solar scope acquisition effort, please reach out and contact the board in general or any individual member. Here's where to do that:
It's your club, so we hope to hear from you!
Now that the sun is starting to show some activity, the SJAA aims to bring our closest stellar neighbor into our focal plane, in addition to the fabulous sights of the night time sky.
See you in the dark (and maybe sunlight)!
Secretary, San Jose Astronomical Association