Stunning images of the Sun are taken in Kent by a retired lecturer

Stunning images of the Sun showing its surface bubbling with white-hot plasma are captured by a retired photography lecturer from his garden in Kent

  • Paul Andrew, 66, of Dover, Kent captures the incredible images using a customised Lund 152 telescope
  • The images show the tumultuous surface of our star, which is more than 90million miles away from Earth
  • Violent projections from the surface of our star are captured in stunning detail by Mr Andrew  

A 66-year-old retied photography lecturer has taken a series of incredible images of the Sun’s surface from his garden in Kent. 

Paul Andrew of Dover snapped the images using his Lund 152 telescope, in which he has invested significant funds, he says. 

The series of images show the tumultuous surface of our star, which is more than 92million miles away from Earth. 

A series of violent plasma projections and eruptions spewing from it surface are captured with the black abyss of space as a backdrop. 

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A 66-year-old retied photography lecturer has taken a series of incredible images of the Sun’s surface from his garden in Kent. Pictured, a violent projection from the surface of the sun 

This photo of the Sun’s surface shows the variation in activity across the star, which varies depending on what is happenung deep in the star’s inner layers 

The Earth has been added here to show the contrast of our planet to the Sun. Mr Andrew used his own domestic telescope to take the photos of the Sun 

Mr Andrew says the best time to take pictures of the sun is during the summer, when it is high in the sky, relatively obstructed by cloud and available for longer

After retiring as a photography lecturer from the University of Kent, Mr Andrew wanted to combine his interests in art and astronomy and invested his own money in his telescope 

Mr Andrew says the best time to take pictures of the sun is during the summer, when it is high in the sky, relatively obstructed by cloud and available for longer.  

‘I use [my telescope] as often as possible when it is sunny. However, I cannot so much during the winter months as the Sun is very low in the sky and the seeing conditions can be quite poor.

‘The Sun is always changing and I never know what I am going to see.’

After retiring as a photography lecturer from the University of Kent, Mr Andrew wanted to combine his interests in art and astronomy.  

‘I just find it incredible to think that the images many amateurs are currently producing are far superior to those taken by the world’s largest telescopes just a few years ago,’ he explained.

However, he says capturing photographs of the Sun is fraught with technical difficulties, and relies on a hefty slice of luck.  

‘Unlike many astronomical objects, the Sun is always changing and you never know what to expect from day to day,’ he explained.

‘This makes solar imaging a fascinating genre. However, when imaging from the UK there is always an on-going battle with poor and turbulent atmospheric conditions – called seeing – that degrade the finest detail on the Sun.

‘For much of the time it can be very frustrating. But when you get those brief moments of good steady seeing, and you successfully capture some fine detail, all the frustrations and your hard work becomes worth it.’

Taking detailed photos of the sun is difficult, mainly due to a phenomenon called ‘seeing’. Mr Andrew says: ‘When imaging from the UK there is always an on-going battle with poor and turbulent atmospheric conditions – called seeing – that degrade the finest detail on the Sun’

‘For much of the time it can be very frustrating. But when you get those brief moments of good steady seeing, and you successfully capture some fine detail, all the frustrations and your hard work becomes worth it,’ Mr Andrew says of his hobby 

Sun unleashes its biggest flare since 2017: NASA says our home star could finally be ‘waking up’

New sunspots on the surface of the Sun and the biggest solar flare since 2017 could be a sign that our star is waking up from a long slumber, according to NASA.

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted the ‘strongest flare since October 2017’ on May 29, suggesting it may be entering a new solar cycle.

A solar flare is a burst of radiation coming from sunspots – relatively cool patches on the surface of the Sun – and NASA says there’s also an increase in sunspot activity.

The flare poses no danger to Earth as it wasn’t aimed at our planet – but NASA says it is a sign of the star moving to a more active phase of its 11-year cycle.

The flares were too weak to pass the threshold at which the Space Weather Prediction Center would trigger an alert to scientists on Earth, NASA said. 

After several months of very few sunspots and little solar activity, scientists and space weather forecasters are keeping their eye on this new cluster to see whether they grow or quickly disappear. 

According to NASA ‘the sunspots may well be harbingers of the Sun’s solar cycle ramping up and becoming more active.’

Whether they are just a temporary change or a move to a new more active phase won’t be known for a few months months, NASA said.

‘It takes at least six months of solar observations and sunspot-counting after a minimum to know when it’s occurred,’ the space agency wrote on its website.

‘Because that minimum is defined by the lowest number of sunspots in a cycle, scientists need to see the numbers consistently rising before they can determine when exactly they were at the bottom.’ 

It means that solar minimum is only recognisable after the fact – you can’t say ‘we’re currently in solar minimum’ as it takes up to 12 months to confirm – by which point we would be out of solar minimum. 

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