Solar Activity, Comet Holmes, and A Gift For Kenya

The sun is finally getting interesting, even though we are in the low point of a solar cycle.

For months we've seen little activity on the solar surface, sometimes going weeks without a single sunspot. There is one group, at almost dead center. There are 44 spots by my count - a number of which are simple pores. I put the classification at "Eai." The Wolfe number is 54.

Last night I took another look at Comet Holmes. In light polluted skies, it is barely disernable with the naked eye. It is clear in the binoculars. It is difficult through even the lowest powers of my telescopes. The comet continues to enlarge, and this means its surface brightness is decreasing. It is the strangest comet I've ever observed!

In addition to using binoculars, a 10 inch reflector and a 3.5 Questar, I used the telescope that Artie (a colleague from Slooh) donated for the Kenya trip.

Thanks for this great donation, Artie! The kids in Kenya will love it. I viewed M42, and the image was very clear and sharp. Mars shows up fairly well, but I think it is always a disappointment in a small telescope. I took a peak at several open clusters and a couple of galaxies.

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