New Active Region

2011 05 09, 1429UT-1550UT
Solar NOAA 11203, 11204, ??, 11209, 11208

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix
DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell, ETX70 AT w/tilt plate and white light glass filter.

All sketches done scopeside and flipped in Photoshop to match standard orientation. H-alpha sketch created with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil. White light sketch created on photocopy paper with 0.5mm mechanical pencil and #2 pencil.

Transparency made it nearly impossible to view prominences at the start of the session with the thin layer of cirrus creating a milky white sky. There were small breaks that allowed me to sketch in some of the detail on a western prominence, that later as the transparency improved, showed an abundance of thin whispy structure that wasn’t captured on paper. By that time, I was already working on a full disk sketch in h-alpha. Seeing was terrific until I started on the white light observation, but had I set up the ETX at the beginning of the session to let the scope adjust to the warmth, it would have been much better by the time I observed with it. As it was, I observed in the observatory for protection of the wind as I view with a shade attached to the objective and wanted to avoid vibration.

There is a possible new active region between 1209 and 1208 that, while observing in white light, had several little spots forming an elliptical shape with pointed ends like a football. I noticed facula around 1208, but the seeing was so bad that I couldn’t make out a definite shape. The umbra of the preceding spot in that region was displaced, as was the preceding spot in 1203. I didn’t notice any sunspots in 1209 during my observation, but that may have been the result of the seeing.

The band of active regions is still putting on a nice show in h-alpha with more-defined plage around them.

Sunspots and Proms, Filaments and Plage

2011 03 08, 1703 UT – 1945 UT
Solar h-alpha, NOAAs 11164, 11165, 11166, 11169, prominence sequence 240 pa (11165)

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix
Temp: 16.8°C, Humidity 34%, SE winds 8mph
Seeing: Wilson 3.5 w/moments of 1, Transparency: 1-2/6
Alt: 44.5°- 36.4°, Az: 168.1°- 221.1°

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell

H-alpha sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

It was a nice surprise to see the Sun out and the thin clouds scattered enough for a solar session, especially with 4 active regions present. I didn’t pull out a white light filter. It certainly would have made a great comparison to the h-alpha views with all the sunspots scattered about. The fibrils in NOAA 11166 were outstanding and plentiful, reaching out through plage in wide arcs. 11164 looked etched near the limb with stark contrast between the filaments and plage.

It was 11165 that kept most of my attention today with its area of prominence changing so rapidly that I’m fairly certain portions of it erupted and then collapsed on itself. Two times sections had broken free and floated off. During those times, a sketch was completed every 5-10 minutes.

I would have liked to have stayed out for at least a few more hours, but the transparency became too horrendous to pull detail out of the prominences and full overcast skies was soon to follow.

Calm Before the Storm

Object Name The Sun
Object Type Star
Location Lost Pleiad Observatory, Tucson, AZ
Date July 31, 2010, completed at 1628 UT (9:28 AM local time)
Media HB graphite pencil on plain white paper

Additional information:
This sketch of the sun was completed the day before Active Region 11092 erupted with a C class flare that blew the dark snaking filament near the meridian right off the sun and toward earth. This eruption was responsible for the aurora that have been on display in northern latitudes over the last couple nights of August 3 and 4.

I made the sketch while observing the sun through my Lunt Solar Systems pressure tuned 60mm Hydrogen Alpha scope, and a Baader Hyperion 8-24mm Zoom eyepiece. The sketch took approximately 30 minutes to complete, at which time the sun had an altitude of 47 degrees above the horizon with an azimuth of 98 degrees. Seeing was average, due to high humidity and passing clouds, however, there were enough moments of steady seeing to allow for fine detail to be observed within the active region (AR). AR 11092 contains a very dark and sizable sunspot that is visible even in the hydrogen alpha wavelength. In addition, there are a couple thin filaments on the following (east) side of the AR.

Alan Strauss

Anatomy of an Active Region

Anatomy of an Active Region

Solar Active Region 11029 on October 25, 2009
Sketch and Details by Stephen Ames

Subject: AR 11029
Crayola Cerulean for plage
Conti White pencil for filament
white 20# paper with Aqua Green disk
I scan into photoshop and invert.

Blue skies,

Stephen Ames

See your life giving sun in vivid images and art
from observers all over the world at

Intensity, Energy, and Beauty

AR 1019

Solar h-alpha, Active Region 1019 on June 2nd, 2009
Sketch and Details by Deirdre Kelleghan

Active Region 1019
June 2nd 2009
PST 40 mm / 8mm TVP Up scaled by eye
Pastel, and Conte on black paper
11:00 UT

After several months of drawing tiny proms dancing on the solar limb I was thrilled to see an new active region forming. Experimenting with solar drawing is fun because it is a challenge to achieve accurate details as the view is so tiny. Solar granulation as seen in the h alpha is very difficult to depict. I will continue in pursuit of my goal accuracy in observing and depiction. Drawing helps me understand what I am looking at , which in turn helps me in my efforts to understand the sun.


Sunny Delight

Proms 053109

Solar h-alpha, 2009 May 31, 1610UT – 1725UT
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 May 31, 1610UT – 1725UT
Solar h-alpha, Erika Rix
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white
Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, black oil pencil.

Temp: 23°C-24.8°C , Humidity 48%
Seeing: Wilson 3, Transparency: 2/6
Clear with haze, winds N ~8mph
Alt: 59.9, Az: 118.2

Initial impression was a bit of disappointment because the huge
prominence that others are reporting wasn’t apparent to me at the
eyepiece. Later today, that large prominence was reported to have
dissipated by 1600UT, so I believe I had just caught the tail end of
it. It was to the northwest and at 1615UT, all that I could see in that
area with our poor transparency was a faint wisp of a prominence.

There were three areas of plage; one nearly midway across the disk and a
second one to the east, both in the northern hemisphere; and another
small area ~ 150° just inside the southern limb. This southern one
makes me wonder if it could be an ephemeral region. Three fairly
obvious filaments could be seen, the largest nearly reaching the small
prominence at ~190°. The center of the disk was full of the dark
hairlike fractures of fibrils or spicules, making a beautiful scene when
moments of better sky conditions would allow for it.

The Makings of a Coronal Mass Ejection


Sun-White Light

Sun – Featuring NOAA 10987, 10988, 10989
Sketches and Commentary by Erika Rix

2008 March 26, 1335ST – 1452ST (1735UT – 1852UT)
Solar H-alpha and White Light
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio, USA, Lat: 40.01 / Long: -81.56
Erika Rix

Temp: 57.0 °F / 13.9 °C
Winds: West 18 mph gusting to 25 mph
Humidity: 33%
Seeing: 5/6
Transparency: 2/6
Alt: 50.4 Az: 157.5

Internally double stacked Maxscope 60mm, LXD75, 40mm ProOptic Plossl, 21-7mm Zhumell
ETX70 AT, tilt plate, 8mm Televue Plossl

Sketch Media:
H-alpha – Black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ and Prang pencils, white vinyl eraser.
Added –5 brightness, +30 contrast after scanning in color at 300 dpi. Tilting Sun program used for digital Sun insert.

White Light – white copy paper, #2 pencil, .5mm mechanical pencil, photographed sketch instead of scanning for better contrast.

It was said that today NOAA 10989 produced an M2-class eruption causing a CME. I have to say that each of the three active regions had very bright plage seeming to curve around the dark specks of sunspots within each region. It’s not often I get such a great view of the sunspots themselves in h-alpha, but today 10988 had the largest umbral area and they all had one or two smaller dark spots. I could hardly wait to pull out the ETX70 with a white light filter to see the sunspots themselves in much greater detail.

Prom activity was very modest. After 3-4 strolls around the limb tweaking the Etalon, 6 areas of very small prominences came to view. The filaments on the disk were showy, especially the large blotchy one to the south of 10988.

With the white light filter, facula was clearly viewable around 10989, reaching out in several directions. Penumbrae were seen in most of the sunspots. I had hoped to increase magnification for a closer view, but with transparency becoming worse, as well as viewing in white light in the front yard rather then in the protection of the observatory, the white light view was already too soft. Increasing magnification would have made it impossible.

Fire and Ice

Sun Ha

The Sun in Ha light on January 4th, 2008
By Erika Rix

2008 01 04
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

It was a beautiful sight today with the Sun gleaming off the snow. The snow was
melting fast as the temperature was slowly rising. Unfortunately, the snow didn’t
melt fast enough off the observatory roof, so I had to just drop down the upper part
of the southern wall and leave the roof completely on, otherwise, I would have had
to deal with water dripping on my gear in the observatory. As it turned out, it was
a good way to keep the winds at bay today, plus I’m sure kept me warmer in the more
enclosed space.

There were four very bright plage areas on the disk in h-alpha. One from NOAA 10981,
another large intricate plage structure for 10980, then a very thin bright one that
reached over to 10980 just inside the Eastern limb. The final was toward the West. I
could see a dark “spot” being cradled by the plage in 981, and by viewing in white
light, there was most definitely a small pore that appeared almost elongated. With
all the haze today plus winds during my white light filter session outside of the
observatory, it was difficult to tell if this elongation was another very tiny pore
just beside the larger one, or if it was just blurred from the conditions outside.
In any case, both to the NE and the SW of this dark dot were faint markings
resembling contrast of faculae. I couldn’t confirm what the markings were with this

 The Sun in white light

In white light, I could see no other evidence of active regions.

Getting back to h-alpha in the observatory, there were six areas of prominence
around the limb that I could see. With the haze and poor seeing conditions, I had to
wait for moments of clarity and steadiness to get good definition for closer looks.
Patience definitely proved to be valuable today.

The prominence to the SE just below the AR980 was very faint and fan-like. To the
very southern portion of it, it became brighter. I could almost make out all the
connections to each section of it.

Then at the western limb, slightly to the south was a very sharp brighter prominence
with several fingers reaching out like flames. I really enjoyed this one.

The show stopper of the session was most definitely the plage with a few dark thin
filaments looking as if they were separating the plage in AR980 and onward to the
eastern limb.

It’s said that a new solar cycle has begun, making it number 24. We’ll see, but it’s
looking promising.

A Solar Christmas

Solar Christmas

A Christmas Day solar collage
By Erika Rix 

2007 12 25


Erika Rix

PCW Memorial Observatory

Lat 40.01, Long -81.56

 It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to observe, but I was fortunate today to get
out behind the Maxscope to soak up a bit of Sun in the observatory.  Even with the
low altitude of the Sun at 26.5 degrees, the winter is still my favorite time of
year for solar observing.  

In the ENE region just inside the limb was a short, but thickened filament visibly
reaching out beyond the limb with two hairline branches, forming an intricate
network of prominences.  At lower magnification, this filament looked like two
separate sections.  Increasing magnification from 19x to 57x, the outer portion of
this filament looked like an elongated “X” with hair-like branches connecting to the
inner filament that swooped to the north.  The prominences consisted of two
brighter, almost “A” shaped areas with several very faint, wispy lines reaching out
to each other as well as other areas of the limb edge. 

Adjusting the outer Etalon, I observed a network of hairline fibrils across the disk
that, along with spicules, made a beautiful show of dark mottling across the
Chromospheric network.  There was an area of plage to the NE quadrant of the solar
disk.  It was separated into two sections, at times looking like three, with a few
very tiny dark dots around it.  I didn’t get out my white light filter for
cross-reference, so am not sure if these dark dots were actually pores.

Reaching further NNW, were more filaments, much thinner than the NE filament, but a
little more obvious than fibrils. And then off the limb was a very bright prominence
(at the bottom left of the sketch) that at first glance looked like a pair of cat
ears peeking over the limb.  The peaks of it first appeared to be swaying to the
East, but then forty-five minutes later, the two peaks turned toward each other.
Bumping up the magnification allowed me to see the amazing intricate structure of
this prominence.

To the WNW, a tiny little round prominence formed. It was very bright and dense.
Over the observation period, it reached out in a spraying fashion.  I thought this
one would change faster or maybe even break off or collapse before I called it a
day.  But the prominence stayed the same, only growing a few more tiny fingers off
the limb around it. 

There was only one other significant prominence, located to the SE, and several
spicules reaching out from the limb. 

The sketch was done on black Strathmore Artagain paper and a combination of white
Conte’ and Prang pencils, sharpened piece of black charcoal, and a white Conte’
crayon.  I sprayed it with a fixative afterwards.

Post processing after scanning involved -24 lightness, +15 contrast and then just
cropping and moving the sketches around for the finished collage.

Two views of the nearest star

 Colored Ha Sun

You can see the effects of the magnetic fields through the long fingers of the
filaments holding the cooled dense gas in place. Although this observation is mainly
in the chromosphere and lower parts of the corona, the filaments are generally held
in place by regions of opposing magnetic polarity within the photosphere. Of course
this is also the case for the prominences, as prominences are filaments above the
limb where the gas is set in front of the black sky instead of the disk. Although
the filaments were very impressive on the disk itself, they were not so impressive
on the limb today. Having said that, take a look at the faint section of prominence
that appears to be floating off the limb in the WNW region.

NOAA 10969’s plage intertwined and reached out with crooked fingers.

Sun white light

The next observation was using a white light filter where over 99.999% of the Sun’s
light is blocked out, making it possible for me to view the photosphere.  This is
called white light.  You can see NOAA 10969 in the cooler layer.  The chromosphere
becomes invisible to me again.  The two dark sections of umbrae within the penumbra
of this action region were very prominent.  I could see a darkened outline of the
penumbra and it had an almost rectangular shape with curved corners.  Of particular
interest was the very faint darkened area to the right of the sunspot.  This happens
to me fairly often, seeing little bonus features like this.  I’m still not sure what
causes it.  Normally I would think it was contrast from faculae that I was unable to
discern.  Normally we can only see faculae closer to the darker limb regions. But
often I can see an outline of contrast suggesting faculae present when the active
region is toward the center of the disk.

This time it is a little different.  If I didn’t know any better, it looked like a
thick triangular cooler region next to the sunspot.  By this I mean cooler than the
photosphere, hotter than the umbra, and only just slightly hotter than the

2007 08 26, 1700-1928 UT

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio
Equipment used:

Internally Double stacked Maxscope 60mm, WO Binoviewers, 20mm WO EP’s, LXD75.

Meade ETX70-AT, 21-7mm Zhumell, glass white light filter.

Seeing above average with only a few moments of quivering, transparency above average.

Temps 80.1 °F / 26.7 °C to 78.1 °F / 25.6 °C over course of observation.

Winds 4.6 mph – 6.9mph NNE/ 11.1 km/h.

Clear progressing to mostly cloudy by the end of the session.

Humidity 54%
H-alpha sketch was rendered using Prang colored pencils and Black Strathmore
Artagain paper.  White light sketch was created with photocopy paper and a number 2

Erika Rix

White Light Delight

White light sketch 

Solar Photosphere: The Beginning of NOAA 10966

Faculae were on both the eastern and western limbs, showing up with nice contrast
against the limb darkening. Within the eastern facula, the spot in NOAA 10966 was
hiding so well that I nearly missed it all together. After scanning the entire disk,
I finally picked up this little pore. No signs of penumbra. Faint granulation was
observed, though.

I’ve been using copy paper and a #2 pencil for my multiple white light filter
observations. Blending done with my finger.

Erika Rix
Zanesville, Ohio USA