H-alpha images – August 25, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on August 25, 2016 by maxpho

A few shots from today, showing one very fast changing prominence and an interesting Active Region.

TS 115mm F/7 APO, Quark H-alpha chromosphere filter with UV/IR cut filter, ASI 174MM camera.

First, the 12 minute animation, acquired in changing seeing conditions:


And the non-moving shot:




H-alpha Sun – August 23, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on August 24, 2016 by maxpho

Again, some H-alpha shots. Mostly these were acquired as tests in an attempt to reduce the field uniformity due mostly to the camera used for the acquisition (at least I think this is the reason).

Equipment: TS 115mm F/7, Baader UV/IR cut filter, Quark Chromosphere, ASI 174MM camera.



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H-alpha Sun – August 22, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on August 22, 2016 by maxpho

Again, some activity on the Sun’s limb with a few large proms.

Equipment: TS 115mm F/7 APO Refractor, Quark Chromosphere H-alpha filter, Baader UV/IR cut filter, ASI 174MM camera. 700 out of 4000 frames. Seeing 5/10.

The colored version:


And grayscale:


UPDATE (August 23, 2016):

One more image pair showing the same region presented above but at a different angle:



And a small active region as seen from above:


And a three-frame animation showing soft evolution of the solar surface on a period of only 15 minutes:


H-alpha Sun – August 21, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on August 21, 2016 by maxpho

A lovely display today on the Sun, despite the poor seeing conditions. The H-alpha Quark filter is rapidly becoming my “most precious” piece of equipment and perhaps my most used one also…

I still have a lot to process from today’s results, but until I finish those results (around 80 Gb of data acquired from which only about 10% are usable I think), I’m posting one colored shot depicting the great activity at the solar limb:


The shot is a stack of 700 frames from 4000 under 4-5/10 seeing conditions. The acquisition setup : TS 115mm F/7 APO Refractor, Quark H-alpha filter, Baader UV/IR cut filter, ASI 174MM camera.

The great suspended plasma cloud is perhaps better distinguished in the following reprocessing:


 UPDATE (August 22, 2016):

Newly processed images:

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13 48utBWAug21.jpg

And another part of the solar limb:



First-light for the QUARK H-alpha filter

Posted in ASTRO on August 17, 2016 by maxpho

A new acquisition for me has just arrived: a specialized solar filter that allows humans to see the emission of hydrogen  at a wavelength of 656nanometers.

This H-alpha filter was a gift for my birthday from my wife, so the following shots are all dedicated to her. And of course a few imaging sessions whenever she requires them🙂

As I’m still a child when it comes to new acquisitions, I had to try it as soon as possible, despite preparing to go on a short holiday at the Black Sea.

With so much luggage, I had to restrain myself at packing only the most lightweight equipment: a small photo-tripod, a small 65mm APO refractor, the very small ASI 174MM camera and of course the Quark filter and a small 32mm eyepiece. The setup looked like this:


That red component is part of the filter, which is powered from a 10Amp phone charger (nicely “blended” with the rest of the gear🙂 ).

The first views at the eyepiece were fantastic, and much of that was due to the good seeing. Of course, the 65mm F/6.5 APO refractor was a bit too small for high magnifications, but the full-disc view was truly staggering.

And, since no equatorial mount was at hand, I had to shoot very short image-sequences to capture some detail in the prominences that were present on the solar limb. The first shot is a 400-frames stack out of 1000, and shows the chromosphere band and one rather large solar prominence occurring on August 16:


I did acquire many more image-sequences during my short holiday, but most of them were tests so no other final results are presented for now with the 65mm refractor. Despite this, I must say that the 65APO/QUARK combo is excellent for fast imaging sessions or when there is a limited space for astronomical equipment. It is also the best way for acquiring full-disc solar images, since the 4x barlow lens inside the Quark filter makes imaging the whole Sun quite hard for refractors with focal lengths of 800mm or more.

I say “800mm or more” because I was also able to try my other APO refractor (a 115mm, F/7) with the Quark filter. This happened after returning from the very short holiday,  and, unfortunately, on rather bad seeing conditions. Despite this, the large prominence (the same from the image above actually, but on a different date) made for a very nice view at the eyepiece, and of course on the laptop screen.

-the BW version:


-the colored version:


And a surface image, with two active regions and lots of hydrogen moving around:


The main goal for my next H-alpha sessions are a full-disc shot acquired with the 65mm refractor, and a long-period animation showing the evolution of a nice prominence.

Of course, both require time and good seeing…

A few more butterflies

Posted in Specii rare on August 10, 2016 by maxpho

Just some shots from a recent trip, showing mainly two very abundant species, but also very local.

Apatura metis:

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Hipparchia syriaca:

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And many more butterflies:

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The following image contains around 37 butterflies:

fluturi 1.jpg

Apatura metis – July 2016

Posted in Specii rare on August 2, 2016 by maxpho

Following are a few shots of one of the most elusive butterflies in Europe: Apatura metis, or “Freyer’s Purple Emperor”, as it is also known.

The location where I found this species (in Dobrogea) is only the second one in which I was lucky enough to see Apatura metis flying. The other area was Comana Woods, back in 2011. The great difference is that in Comana there were only very sporadic observations of this species, about one per year, while the new location has an apparent stable population with 2-300 hundred individuals!

The large number of butterflies allowed me and my wife to get some nice shots of Apatura metis, despite the 30+ degrees Celsius and late hour (usually Apatura metis is more “docile” in the morning).

First shot presents a female resting for a few seconds on leafs:

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The second shot presents a male, with its distinctive purple iridescence on the wings:

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The vast majority of the individuals observed were fresh, some barely emerged from pupae, with only a few males presenting an older aspect, mostly from flying in between the Salix branches. There was, however, an “old timer”: a female very possible from the first brood (this was my conclusion based on the larger size – almost as large as Apatura ilia females, compared to the very small “fresh” individuals, and the “very old” aspect of the butterfly’s wings), feeding in the shade:

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Occasionally some individuals were resting on trees:

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The large number of individuals (both males and females, in a 50-50% occurrence) indicated that the species was at its peak in late July (based on observations from two trips to the location, with a 6 day interval), and some couples were observed resting together in the trees:

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Back at home, while processing these shots, I had the pleasure of discovering an extra individual in a shot of the above couple: an Apatura metis pupae. It is visible in the image below, in the lower left corner of the image (marked with two white lines):

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This pupae and a ready-to-pupate larva were observed (but not photographed, unfortunately) on a single Salix tree. This means that this second brood is still going to fly at the location for a while…

A new trip is being planned🙂

UPDATE: Following are two shots of one Apatura metis pupae. One of the observed larvae (which was also collected) has transformed. Look at the shape and compare with the above image showing the pupae well camouflaged between the Salix leaves.


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