Friday, September 03, 2010

Sauron? Is that you?

Courtesy BBSO

Nope. Just a sunspot. reports:
A new photo of a sunspot on the surface of the sun taken by a telescope in California is the most detailed seen in visible light, scientists say.

The sunspot snapshot was obtained by the New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear Lake, Calif., operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


The telescope is touted to be the worlds' largest ground-based solar instrument and was completed last year, NJIT officials said in a statement.

The new sunspot photo is the "first light" target for the observatory's new advanced optics system during a solar photography session on July 1-2. It has a resolution of about 50 miles (80 km) and is the best yet taken by a ground-based telescope, observatory officials said.
The best "yet". Hopefully much more to come.


Keith Alan K said...

The use of the term "snapshot" in relation to this high-tech photo offends me.

Albatross said...

Yes, and it is entirely the fault of the writer, Clara Moskowitz, who couldn't resist the rare opportunity to use the alliterative rhyme "sunspot snapshot". And you're right, that totally mischaracterizes how such images are captured in the first place.

Images such as these are technological wonders in themselves. The writer even mentions this later in the piece when she writes, "Adaptive optics in telescopes is a technique that uses a deformable mirror to compensate for the blurring of images caused when light passes through Earth's atmosphere. The New Solar Telescope has 67 motors that can be moved to bend the mirror to provide clear pictures of the sun."

That's fascinating, and having used such a description it's a shame she fell back on that tired journalistic trick of using cute phrases to hook the readers and get them to read the story.

Hey, Ms. Moskowitz, if someone is going to a place like to read about the New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory, you've probably already gotten their attention.