University of Michigan - Department of Astronomy

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version: telescopic


Solar Observing at Angell Hall

Some of the smaller telescopes at Angell Hall have solar filters so you can observe the Sun safely. There are two types of filters here: a white light filter and an H-alpha filter. Do not look through any telescope, including the finder 'scopes unless there is a filter on it. Permanent eye damage can be almost instantaneous!

Part 1: White Light Filter

  1. Before you begin, take a look at the front of the telescope. You may need to back far away or step up onto the stepstool to see. What do you see? Why is it safe to look through the telescope at the Sun?


  2. Look through the telescope. What color is the Sun viewed with the white light filter?

  3. What do you see? Describe it in words and do a sketch below.
    space for sketch
  4. Measure one of the sunspots in your picture. Indicate the spot in your sketch. Given that the Sun's diameter is 1.39x106 km, how big is the sunspot? How does this compare to the size of the Earth (12,400 km diameter)?


Part 2: Hydrogen alpha Filter

Note that this actually uses 2 filters, one to cut down on the light entering the telescope and one to limit what you see to a single wavelength: the first Balmer line. See the introduction for more on this filter.

  1. Look through the telescope. What color is the Sun viewed with the white light filter?

  2. What do you see? Describe it in words and do a sketch below.
    space for sketch
  3. In the sketch, label a sunspot, a plage, a filament, and a prominence. If any of these are not visible, describe what they would look like and where you would look for them.




  4. Compare this sketch to the white light one. Is there a link between activity on the photosphere and in the chromosphere?



Updated: 1/30/08 by SAM

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