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  • Writer's pictureMike Meynell

Solar Viewing Session: Clouds, Sunspots, and Smiles

On Saturday 3rd June 2023, the Flamsteed Astronomy Society, with the support of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, resurrected a long-standing tradition: the public solar viewing session. This comeback event, the first in four years, was akin to a grand reunion - albeit one where the Sun took centre stage.

Our primary gadget of the day was a specialist hydrogen-alpha Solar telescope. This trusty instrument painted the Sun in a unique red light, laying bare an entire catalogue of solar phenomena like sunspots, prominences, and filaments. Now, we did have to play peekaboo with the Sun thanks to some mischievous clouds, but we still managed to catch those awe-inspiring solar snapshots.

All set up for solar viewing

We also had a secret weapon, a "Sunspotter," which cast a white light image of the Sun. This clever contraption helped attendees track sunspots. Despite the Sun playing hard to get behind the clouds, the Sunspotter lived up to its name, revealing several sunspots in all their glory.

Bobby, Tony, Stan and Thomas, with the Sunspotter

Now, what's a successful event without a dedicated team? Our volunteers - Bobby, Clive, Mike, Tony, Poly, Mark, Richard, Thomas, and Stan - were the unsung heroes of the day. From setting up the telescopes to demystifying the intricacies of the Sun, their efforts shone brightly.

The main volunteer team: Clive, Mark, Tony, Mike, Poly and Richard

Despite having to occasionally battle with the clouds, the event was hugely rewarding. It showed us that when it comes to uncovering the wonders of the universe, a little patience and a lot of enthusiasm go a long way.

Pictures from the event (by Bobby Manoo and Mike Meynell)

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