Flaring Sunspot Group

Meet AR13341, an active region (that’s what the ‘AR’ stands for) on the Sun. Imaging this today, there were extremely bright ribbons of light visible through my h-alpha filter. These were due to an in-progress flare.

Solar seeing was odd this morning – very unstable but the undulating blobs had great clarity. Unfortunately, this seeing doesn’t process that well and the image is less sharp than I would have liked. I took a number of shots of the region and the results, covering a 3.3 minute time period, are show below in a short animation. Times are shown on the image frames, an important thing to add to any solar image as feature detail can change rapidly over extremely short timescales.

Venus and the Moon

Venus has been a constant companion in the evening twilight for several months now, but that’s all about to change as it heads towards inferior conjunction on 13 August 2023. This evening a few clouds parted to allow a lovely view (and photo opportunity) of Venus near the waxing crescent Moon. Image taken with a Canon 6D on a static tripod, 2s exposure @ f/11, ISO 1600 using a 50-500 telephoto lens set at 363mm. Image time 21:52 UT.

Update: The image below is a wider view which shows Mars (up against the left hand frame edge) which was present in the area too.

Solstice sunrise 2023

The Sun rises from my location in the UK every single day, although some of those days are totally clouded out of course! On 21 June, the sunrise is special because from the Northern Hemisphere, this is the point where the northern rotational pole of the Earth is tilted maximally towards the Sun for the year. Astronomically it’s the start of summer.

This morning, I ventured down to Thornton Reservoir in Leicestershire which is near to where I live, and spent a pleasant hour with ducks, geese and swans, along with a visit from the local police force. Not sure if they were tipped off to a strange individual at the reservoir or whether they just wanted to see the sunrise too. Whatever, they didn’t disturb me.

This solstice sunrise was perfect – no clouds to spoil the view. From my usual location (I’ve photographed the sunrise from Thornton Reservoir every year since 2019) the solstice Sun rises exactly at a point in the horizon bounded by a tree-lined hill to the left and a more distant horizon to the right. A beautifully serene experience despite the early start!


Filaments are huge ‘clouds’ of hydrogen plasma held above the solar chromosphere by magnetic fields. They are cooler and therefore appear darker than the underlying chromosphere (or lighter when the surface has been inverted, as here).

As the Sun rotates, filaments are carried across to the western limb. Here their elevated nature becomes evident because the appear to extend off the edge of the Sun as a prominence.

Amateur solar observers coined the term ‘filaprom’ to describe the transition of a filament into a prominence. In this image careful processing has been used to show the transition effect.


A storm broke over my home location on 12 June during the middle of the day. This always makes photographing lightning harder than at night. For night shoots, it’s possible to leave a camera exposing for many seconds without over-exposing the frame. During the day, a fraction of a second is all it takes to completely over-expose the shot. These frames were grabbed off a video system. This was from one video file of several (I haven’t had time to check the others yet!). Seems to be a good way to record lightning forks. Similarity between some of the images above comes from the fact that some of the images are from the same short frame sequence. Basically, these show the same fork in different stages of development.

Solar Activity 2023-06-14

A snapshot of solar activity through a Daystar Quark h-alpha filter (chromosphere version) on 14 June 2023. This is a mosaic image made from six separate panes, manually merged together. The chromospheric ‘surface’ has been inverted, a technique which helps provide a more three dimensional appearance to the elevated dark filaments that criss-cross the solar disc. Inverted, filaments appear lighter than the underlying chromosphere. The non-inverted version is shown below for comparison.