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Solar trifecta

Solar trifecta is a pretty cool way of imaging the different layers of the solar photosphere and chromosphere!

The Sun is close to the maximum, which will offer lots of features in both the solar photosphere and chromosphere in years to come. Solar maximum is estimated to be between the years 2024-2025. A cool way to observe solar activity is the use of solar trifecta, three different views in different wavelengths. For solar imagers, the most common wavelengths are Ca II K (393 nm) for the lower chromosphere, H-alpha for the upper chromosphere (656 nm), and Baader Solar Continuum for the photosphere (540 nm).

The solar photosphere has granulation, sunspots, pores, and faculae as common features. Sunspots reveal bigger aperture interesting details such as penumbra and umbra, light bridges, and possible growth or decay over the weeks. For solar imagers, the photosphere is often referred to as white light, as it contains all the colors of the spectrum. Of course, with the use Solar Continuum filter, only the green light passed. Usually, most telescopes have good optical performance in this region. Solar photosphere can be captured with several options, for example with Baader Solar filter or Herschel wedge.

The next layer above the photosphere is the lower chromosphere. This can be captured with narrowband filters, such as the Ca II K module by Lunt Solar Systems or CaH Quark by Daystar filters. As this light is at the edge of the visible spectrum, it is meant for imaging mostly. Few people have good vision in this region of light. The lower chromosphere reveals bright white plage regions, which are the strong concentration of magnetic regions. Sunspots are also visible and supergranulation. It is a much bigger feature than normal granulation, forming hexagonal cells around the disk. It is possible to capture flares and prominences too in Ca II K light!

The best solar eye candy is impressive eruptions visible in the upper chromosphere or H-alpha wavelength. Full disk imaging is easy with small Lunt Solar System telescopes, but it is possible with Quark Chromosphere too with short focal length telescopes. In H-alpha, we can observe protuberances, filaments, plage regions, active regions, and flares. In every layer of the Sun, we are observing how strong the magnetic field is swirling hot plasma. Some events might last days or weeks, while there are often features with very short duration too.

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