Spotting the Sun

I've just been outside playing around with ways of observing the sun and thought a few of you might be interested in hearing about it.
Emma was looking at our own bedroom window, not the sun.

Before I start: DO NOT ever look directly at the sun, however briefly, without appropriate protection and the guidance of someone who knows what they're talking about*.

I had a go at the pinhole camera technique. The idea is that you punch a pinhole in a piece of card and then move it around until it projects an image on another piece of card. The results were o.k, but not impressive, but I've got a couple of ideas for improving on it- I'm just waiting for the next toilet roll to run out!

At the same time, however, @Squiggle7 was sitting in the garden using my binoculars to try to work out where exactly the wasps are trying to make a nest in the vicinity of our bedroom window. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had a go at using them to project an image of the sun onto my sheet of white card.

My first binocular sun projection!

Before I go any further I'll add the disclaimer that if you try this for yourself I take no responsibility for any damage incurred to yourselves or your equipment. It's entirely at your own risk.

After I'd realised that I was holding the binoculars the wrong way round (blocking off one lens), I managed to get a fuzzy blob to appear on the card. Moving the binoculars towards and away from the card makes the image smaller and brighter or larger and dimmer respectively. I wasn't initially impressed, but then I remembered the focus wheel: a bit of a fiddle with this and I was mindblown. I could see the sun.

I could even make out a dark bit on the sun that may or may not have been a sunspot. I checked that it wasn't just a bit of grit on the lens by swapping lenses- I got the same spot in the same place! It also checks out with what's currently available on NASA's SOHO real-time images site.

Anyway, I took a photo with my phone. When you consider that I was holding the phone with one hand, the binoculars with the other, and Emma was holding the card, the shot came out pretty well. If you look closely you can even make out that sunspot...
Here 'tis in full glory. O.k, it could be clearer...

* Beware people who only think they know what they're talking about.


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