Monday, September 11, 2017

Scarlet Tanager at Warbler Woods

This weekend Danielle and I drove down to Warbler Woods, a private bird sanctuary in Cibolo, TX. We had a very relaxing day. Among the birds we saw was this female Scarlet Tanager, listed as a rarity in central Texas as it normally migrates along the Gulf Coast flyway. Perhaps Harvey contributed to blowing this one off course ... or maybe it was just having problems with turn-by-turn directions on its GPS, just like we did getting down there.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hawks Make a Visit

After not seeing any Red-shouldered Hawks for a month or so, a pair has been hanging around the yard this week. There are two of them calling in the mornings. The adult breast pattern would suggest that this is our original breeding pair, not the new juveniles.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

More Solar Activity

During the total eclipse last month, the sun sported two active regions AR2671 and AR2672. These gave added interest to the partial phase images and, conveniently, gave something detailed to focus the cameras on.

This week, the sun is putting on a great show, especially given the fact that we at a solar minimum right now. The active region AR2673 grew from a single spot to a large naked eye complex and emitted a X2.2 class solar flare at 09:10 UTC and X9.3 class solar flare at 12:02 UTC, Sept 6. A coronal mass ejection (CME) was emitted towards earth and should produce lower latitude auroras and has caused radio interference. Sky and Telescope has a nice article.

I pulled the solar filters out this morning and took some white light images. Too bad, I have not yet put my H-alpha scope back into working order.  I brought a pair of solar-filtered binoculars to the office to share the view of the big sunspots with my colleagues. In addition to AR2673, another region AR2674 is also very prominent visually if not violently.

A cropped view shows the two regions more clearly. Amazing to consider that the AR2673 region itself is about 8 earth diameters across.

Image taken with Canon 7D MkII (ISO-100, 1/400s), Canon 100-400mm f/5.6 and 1.4x Extender II (560mm f/8), Baader solar filter. White light images colorized in Photoshop to enhance contrast.

After 24 hours, the active regions have rotated nearly to the limb. The shapes have changed slightly but not dissipated.