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Solar Telescopes

1. Closely observing the sun is a remarkable experience that hasn't been available to amateur astronomers for the greater part of the history of commercial astronomy. Solar telescopes may employ a variety of technologies, from simply projecting the sun onto white paper, using a hydrogen-alpha filter, or a spectrohelioscope.


2. The hydrogen-alpha filter transmits a narrow bandwidth of light centered around the H-alpha bandwidth. The resulting image is strictly reds and whites, but textures, curvature, and brightness are easily discernible.


3. If you don't want to invest in a dedicated solar telescope, there are options out there to fit your existing telescope for solar viewing. However, a dedicated solar telescope can be relied on to deliver excellent images, and you won't be saving any money by purchasing the pricey h-alpha optical filters to use with your current telescope.


4. Selection in commercial solar telescopes is not nearly as wide as what you see in refracting and reflecting telescopes. Coronado is the most prominent producer. Together with Meade they market a commercially accessible model. Lunt Solar Systems also offers many H-alpha solar telescopes, but many are more in the professional or institutional price range.


5. Prior to making personal, commercial solar telescopes, the solar telescope had objectives up to 1 meter in diameter. The optical elements had such long focal lengths that they were often buried underground or otherwise held stationary, with a single mobile component to track the sun's path across the sky.

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