Click for an enlarged view of the photo

Here is an animated gif of Sol. It is comprised of a small sampling of the first six images shown below as taken between November 7th thru 12th, 2011. The huge sunspot collection coursing above the equator has been reported by Sky and Telescope to be approximately 50,000 mile across! ...Wow!!!!

Photos taken by Mel Dawson SAO - Vega Sky Center Riverview, FL


"Series 1"

Overall Solar Observation Date Range

NOVEMBER 07, 2011 THRU  DECEMBER 05, 2013

To check out the available images of Sol taken by Mel Dawson, by placing your mouse over the "Solar Obs Series 1 Pages" button and clicking on the date range of choice from the drop-down list.




Overview and Observation Notes

Around the 1st of November of 2011, an unusually large sunspot group appeared on the eastern limb of the Sun. It sparked quite a bit of interest within the astronomical community, and spawned a plethora of articles. It was noted that this huge sunspot grouping grew to 50,000 miles long! That's astonishing! My only demise is that I did not begin my imaging marathon when the spot initially appeared on the limb a few days earlier. I guess I was too busy trying to decide on the setup I was going to use. In the nick of time, I chose my setup, and the rest is history on the move.

With this project aloft, I will continue to capture as many daily images as possible as we approach Solar Maximum, and beyond. The imaging project begun on November 07, 2011, and continues to this day. Each day I will capture an image of the Sun's photosphere and prep it for posting under this the pages of this observation. In most cases, I will post the most recent images on a weekly basis. Please accept my apologies if I fail short of that goal.

During the capturing of these images, there were days when the weather conditions were daunting or unfavorable. But despite the periodic gaps throughout the observation series, I did not miss much solar activity. The one day I truly was sorry I missed was January 07, 2012, when a sunspot group in the upper right hand quadrant blossomed at a tremendous rate. Just check out the differences between the images taken on 01-06-2012 and a couple days later on 01-08-2012. I missed the 01-07-2012 shot due to a fishing trip. Nevertheless, what a difference a day makes!

Now, let's discuss the method I used to get these images. One might think that this huge collection of images may have been put together with great effort. Au contraire! Actually, once I developed my method, it only took no more than 15 minutes to setup, get my series of images to choose from, and have one ready for posting. The DSLR camera settings established for my particular setup are as follows: Manual selection on the main dial -- Shutter Speed: 1/640th and 1/500th of a second -- ISO: 100 -- Image Quality: SHQ -- White Balance: 0. One of these days, I will post a video that shows the steps I go through to capture my shots. In the meantime, please enjoy checking out the photos of Sol I have posted by placing your mouse cursor over the "Sequential Solar Obs Pages" button shown above and clicking on the date range of interest from the drop-down list.


  • Scopos 80mm f/6 Apochromatic Refractor

  • EQ-3 Equatorial Mount on Aluminum Tripod - Powerless and tracked via slow motion control cables

  • Homebuilt Solar Filter using Baader's AstroSolar Visual (ND-5) film

  • Olympus Evolt E-500 Digital SLR (8.0mp - SHQ) with wireless remote to capture images

  • True-2 2" UltraWide Prime Focus Adapter for Olympus 4/3 DSLRs

  • GSO 2" 50mm Extension Tube

  • Olympus SP-500uz Point and Shoot Digital Camera (6.1mp) for Terrestrial Images

  • FujiFilm A850 Point and Shoot Digital Camera (8.0mp) for Terrestrial Images


  • Images processed using FastStone Image Viewer for Windows Software version 4.0

  • Animated Gif created using Beneton Movie GIF Software version 1.1.2


All of the solar images shown below were captured from my backyard using the setup pictured above. The first picture is of the equipment before setup. The next three photos progressively moves in toward the business end of the scope. The last two shots I took shows "sucker holes" I periodically had to contend with; Fiddlesticks!!! Click each images to enlarge!


The above pictures shows the Prime Focus imaging method setup I used to capture the majority of the solar images displayed in the collection contained herein. The photo on the left conveys an view of the setup exploded to show the individual components used. The image on the left shows the setup assembled. Click each images to enlarge!

Thanks, and Clear Skies, Forever!!!

Mel Dawson