Breathtaking images have been taken of the sun by a man in his back garden, showing the star in incredible detail.
Typically you would expect such high quality pictures to be taken by the likes of NASA, but this avid astronomer took them from his own back garden in Kent.
The phenomenal photos of fire shooting out of the star and rippling flames cascading across its surface were taken by retired university lecturer Paul Andrew.
Using a Lunt 152 telescope, Paul, 66, has spent thousands on the high-tech kit but, from the quality of these shots, it seems to have been worth it.
The prices of the high-end telescopes can range from $1,300 to a whopping $9,000 and more.
Speaking about the telescope and using it to take pictures, Paul said:
I use it as often as possible when it is sunny. However, I cannot so much during the winter months as the sun is very low in the sky and the seeing conditions can be quite poor. The sun is always changing and I never know what I am going to see.
I just find it incredible to think that the images many amateurs are currently producing are far superior to those taken by the world’s largest telescopes just a few years ago.
After retiring as a photography lecturer, Paul wanted to combine his passions of photography and astronomy, and purchased the expensive telescope to do just that.
However, despite enjoying taking photos of the mega-star, Paul said doing so can sometimes be ‘frustrating’.
Unlike many astronomical objects, the sun is always changing and you never know what to expect from day to day. This makes solar imaging a fascinating genre.
However, when imaging from the UK there is always an on-going battle with poor and turbulent atmospheric conditions – called seeing – that degrade the finest detail on the sun. For much of the time it can be very frustrating.
Paul added that, when you do get those brief moments of ‘good steady seeing’, all the frustration and hard work is worth it.
Last month it was reported the sun was in a ‘very deep’ solar minimum for much of 2020, meaning no sunspots had been detected on its surface.
A sunspot is an area of magnetic activity on the surface of the sun – also known as storms – and appear in areas of darkness. They play a huge part in the sun’s activity, including birthing solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
While the sunspots and the solar flares they give off become more ‘calm’, as NASA describe it, it doesn’t affect the sun’s brightness, and there are on-going debates around solar minimum’s effect on life on Earth.
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