[Image of Sun]

The Method

The tripod legs were extended and the scope directed in the general direction of the Sun using the directional knobs. The shadow of the telescope was used to help correctly align the telescope, by making the shadow as small as possible, the telescope is closer to pointing in the correct direction. In the viewfinder there is a small white dot which indicates when the Sun is in the correct position for viewing. We found it was best to have this dot slightly higher than the center of the viewfinder. Through the eye piece you should see the Sun in the red of hydrogen alpha due to the filter. The image can be focused using the knob under the scope and using the limb of the sun as a way of estimation. The image appeared focused at a relativly tight setting. The focusing once the camera is attached is at a looser level. In order to view the sun fully in hydrogen-alpha you may need to adjust the tuning of the scope which is located on the barrel.

By replacing the lens on the telescope with the camera, images can be recorded. The camera is attached to the laptop via a USB connection and is run by a piece of software called AMCap, for which there was already shortcut on the desktop of the solar laptop. It should be ready to be used without adjustment, but a few settings should be checked:

  • FILE --> select SET CAPTURE FILE and then allocate a folder for the images to be sent to.
  • DEVICES --> select VGA CCD CAMERA with USB interface to have the correct instrument.
  • OPTIONS --> select PREVIEW to get a live feed stream to check location and focus.
  • CAMERA --> select CAMERA PROPERTIES to get the settings page shown below:


After much changing the settings here were found to be the best for getting a good contrast and while still able to view a large number of features.

  • Note the brightness can be increased to help find the sun initially. Also when taking video clips it is important to change the name of the file and set the file size each time, so that the previous recording is not lost. A video of about 30 seconds should provide all the frames you need.

We were quite interested to see if we could produce an image of the International Space Station transiting the Sun. Here is a great example of this, taken by Thierry Legault.

[ISS Transit]

On further investigation, we discovered he had used a software prediction package which told him the correct location for this shot. So we went and downloaded a program called ISS TRANSIT PREDICITON, which can be found here

When the software is downloaded, it produces a page like this:

[ISS Software]

Firstly, select PREDICTION DIRECTORY --> Sun Putting in our longitude and latitude of Bristol, (51.4 N, 2.7 W) and our elevation of 80 feet, we were able to produce results by clicking GENERATE PREDICTION. This runs for quite some time, and then the file and plot both need to be saved by selecting SAVE PREDICTION FILE and SAVE PLOT FILE. The plot file (the .goo file) can be transferred into Google Maps via this Page

[ISS Transit]

As you can see, they are some pretty impressive results. There appear to be several locations where a photo of this kind could be possible if the weather is cooperative.