When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

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When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Solarscout »

From my research, George Ellery Hale was the first to observe the Sun in H-Alpha. But how long ago was it when the first H-Alpha telescope became available for consumers in amateur astronomy (as opposed to labs and researchers)?

Was it the Coronado PST in early 2000s? Or were there other models of H-alpha telescopes before then that were less known?

How does the quality of these consumer telescopes compare with the view of the Sun that Hale saw?


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by highfnum »

PST sometime in mid to late nineties

daystar goes back to at least 80s.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by christian viladrich »

It depends what you means by Ha solar telescope.

DayStar filters were available to the amateurs a long time ago (before 1976 for sure).


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

The first one I know of was the Coronado PST in the late 1990s. Daystar had filters available for amateur use by 1976.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Solarscout »

Was it only in recent years that H alpha solar imaging really became accessible and affordable for amateurs? The PST did a lot to bring prices down


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

Yes. David Lunt and his company, Coronado really cut inroads into Ha amateur astronomy in the late 90s and early 00s. He sold Coronado to Meade just before his death and his son, Andy started Lunt Solar Systems. The PST has probably outsold any other ha scope over the years. Lunt may end up challenging it with it’s 40 and 50mm options. Sadly though Ha still isn’t as affordable as it should be. Prices went down for awhile but sadly has went back up. The PST just a few years ago could be bought for about 500 USD. It’s close to 900 today. If the Chinese ever get into Ha scopes/etalons the price may then drop and give Lunt and Coronado serious issues.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by thesmiths »

The first use of a Fabry-Perot etalon for solar observation was done at the Crimean Astronomical Observatory in the summer of 1966. The results were published in 1968 in Astronomicheskii Zhurnal (English translation attached). As shown in Figure 2, the bandwidth of the etalon was 0.7 angstrom, similar to amateur etalons today. It was mentioned that the "described system can be easily designed with a far narrower band extending to 0.1-0.2 angstrom. This may possibly require use of two etalons in series."

Soviet Astronomy vol12 p235 Oct 1968.pdf
Use of Fabry-Perot etalon for obtaining monochromatic solar images.
(80.39 KiB) Downloaded 70 times

Less than a decade later, in February 1975, Del Woods founded DayStar Filter Company (see http://www.company7.com/daystar/). However, work on the solar filters by Del Woods predates the founding of DayStar, as he had worked prior at Carson Astronomical Instruments. The SkySpear Hydrogen Alpha filter dates from sometime after 1971, only a very short time after the 1968 publication of the paper above.

SkySpear H-alpha Filters
SkySpear H-alpha Filters
carson_skyspear_filter_broch_cover640495.jpg (131.51 KiB) Viewed 1246 times


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

This is awesome. 1971. Del Woods developed one for Carson Astronomical Instruments. I had no idea. I was 7 years old then.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by christian viladrich »

Interesting ...a bit earlier :
- in 1959, J.A. Dobrowolski (Canadia) wrote : "Mica interference filters with transmission bans of very narrow Half-Widths, Journal of the optical society of canada, August 1959", describing the making, properties and possible uses of mica-spaced etalons,
- In 1962, he obtained a US patent for "narrow band interference filter" using silver coated mica sheet,
- in the early sixties, Doug Martin, while working with Spectrolan Compagny in California develop mica etalon for solar observation (source : Fundamentals of Solar Astronomy, Arving Bhatnagar).

It is not clear to me who actually made the first use of mica-spaced etalon for solar observation : Doug Martin or Kononovitch & Shcheglov.
Last edited by christian viladrich on Fri Jun 02, 2023 5:35 am, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by christian viladrich »

I've just found Mark Wagner post about the works of Doug Martin at Spectrolab. Mark is the owner and maker of Solar Spectrum filters :

"Making Mica etalons commericaly goes back to Spectrolab. Del was hired to run a coating machine there by Doug Martin. After that he went with Carson Industries to do the same thing. After Carson went bankrupt is when Del started Daystar in his garage before moving to Pomona (That is where I meet him in 1976). Then to Chino to a bigger shop. The first paper written about making mica etalon came out in 1959. So he is far from being the first person to make mica etalons commercially."

The 1959 paper he is refereing too is the one by J.A. Dobrowolski.

Source : viewtopic.php?t=32957


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by marktownley »

Interesting thread!


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Montana »

Definitely one for the library :hamster:

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by thesmiths »

christian viladrich wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 5:09 am It is not clear to me who actually made the first use of mica-spaced etalon for solar observation : Doug Martin or Kononovitch & Shcheglov.
I mentioned the Russian work because it is the one cited by both Harvard University and the American Institute of Physics (academics put priority to published results). I'm quite sure the Russian work was done with traditional dielectrically coated glass (not mica); i.e. an air gap etalon and not a solid etalon. I would need to go into the references of that paper to determine for sure how the etalon was constructed (described in ref 3, I think). The Del Woods approach (at least going back to the Carson days) was to make a temperature regulated heated filter cell, which implies it was a solid etalon. Air gap etalons are typically not temperature regulated since the temperature dependent change of index of refraction of air is very low compared to a solid material.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by george9 »

Yes, great thread. Just to point out that the PST came later. Coronado started with the AS series (e.g., 90 and 60mm) in the late nineties and perhaps earlier models. They were kind of affordable. The ASP-60 was $2650 in 2000. My astro buddy still has our two (we each bought one and took turns double stacking).

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

Nice info, George. I'll have to look the AS series up. The look to me what evolved to be the SolarMax series.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Bob Yoesle »

The first commercial H alpha solar telescope that I know of was the one I first looked through in 1968. It had been advertised in Sky & Telescope beginning in the late 1960's.

Marvin Vann Solar Telescopes 1 (2).jpg
Marvin Vann Solar Telescopes 1 (2).jpg (164.39 KiB) Viewed 1134 times

I grew up in San Jose California - now known as "Silicon Valley" - where there were a lot of technical innovators in electronics and hi-tech fields. I was in the 7th grade and building my first telescope, and took a mirror making class at the nearby Foothill Jr. College in Los Altos. It had an observatory, with a 16 inch (40 cm) telescope on a very substantial English cross axis mount - considered extremely large for a homemade telescope at the time. It was built by Marvin Vann, who was the observatory Director and teaching the mirror making classes.

FoothillObservatory.jpg
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While I had a 60 mm refractor with a sun filter for seeing sunspots, mounted to the 16 inch telescope was an unusual looking refractor with a lot of adjusters near the focuser, used in the daytime for looking at the Sun in something called "Hydorgen alpha"!

Foothill CO telescopes.png
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Marvin Vann Solar Telescopes 1.jpg
Marvin Vann Solar Telescopes 1.jpg (152.24 KiB) Viewed 1134 times

The solar prominence telescope that Marvin called "The New Realm Telescope," used an H alpha filter which was tuned by tilting. Together with an occulting disk that completely masked the sun's disc, this telescope made it possible to see and photograph solar prominences on the edge of the sun's circumference through a system of lenses, an adjustable occulting disc, and filter. Later, using what Marvin called "stagger tuning" of two filters – double stacking – made it possible to view the entire disc of the sun without masking the sun's surface with the occulting disk. This series filter design was incorporated into the final model that Marvin called the "Model SPT."

Even though the prices for these H alpha telescopes seem today unbelievably inexpensive, $800 in 1970 is now the equivalent of over $6,400 - not something in a junior high school student (or his parents ;-) budget. But I knew someday I would have an H alpha telescope. In 1975 or so Del Woods came out with the mica DayStar Filters, and again at about $800 then (~ $4,400 today), I was able in 1976 to afford the 0.7 ATM model, which I used on an 3 inch (80 mm) f15 refractor stopped down to 40 mm for the needed f30 focal ratio.

DayStar sm.jpg
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12 inch Cave with DayStar.jpg
12 inch Cave with DayStar.jpg (484.79 KiB) Viewed 1134 times

It really makes me laugh when I see people complaining about how much it costs for a H alpha filter system or telescope these days... especially when you can get a PST or Lunt 40 mm telescope for less than $1000.

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by christian viladrich »

george9 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 1:29 pm Yes, great thread. Just to point out that the PST came later. Coronado started with the AS series (e.g., 90 and 60mm) in the late nineties and perhaps earlier models. They were kind of affordable. The ASP-60 was $2650 in 2000. My astro buddy still has our two (we each bought one and took turns double stacking).

George
In the late 90s, it seems that David Lunt (Coronado) "tested" different approaches. In a March 1998 catalogue, they listed :
- the AS1 : air-spaced etalon placed at the aperture of the telescope,
- the SMn : solid-spaced etalon with 1.52 index. I've got one :-)
- the VHn : solid-spaced etalon with 2.4 index. This one seemed to be a dead end. Only one or two have been made (at leat one for NASA).
- the ASV : same as AS1, but with tilt mechanism.

If we browse through back issues of Sky and Telescope, I am sure we can trace back the various evolutions.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

1968. I was four years old. 10 years before I got into the hobby.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

Solarscout,
Do you have an Ha telescope?

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Solarscout »

Yes mine is a Lunt 50mm. I use it for visual. I would consider imaging if there is a portable camera that can record without needing to bring a laptop outside


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by thesmiths »

Bob Yoesle wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 3:32 pm The first commercial H alpha solar telescope that I know of was the one I first looked through in 1968. It had been advertised in Sky & Telescope beginning in the late 1960's.

The solar prominence telescope that Marvin called "The New Realm Telescope," used an H alpha filter which was tuned by tilting. Together with an occulting disk that completely masked the sun's disc, this telescope made it possible to see and photograph solar prominences on the edge of the sun's circumference through a system of lenses, an adjustable occulting disc, and filter. Later, using what Marvin called "stagger tuning" of two filters – double stacking – made it possible to view the entire disc of the sun without masking the sun's surface with the occulting disk. This series filter design was incorporated into the final model that Marvin called the "Model SPT."
I'm guessing that this H-alpha telescope did not use an etalon? The use of interference filters for solar observation pre-dated the use of the Fabry-Perot etalon by several years (I see references to the early 1960's).


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

Solarscout wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:46 pm Yes mine is a Lunt 50mm. I use it for visual. I would consider imaging if there is a portable camera that can record without needing to bring a laptop outside
Most if not all dedicated astro videocams require the use of a computer. The only way I know out of that is to use a smartphone camera or conventional camera, DSLR, etc.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with visual. I visually observe more than I image.

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

thesmiths wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 9:08 pm
Bob Yoesle wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 3:32 pm The first commercial H alpha solar telescope that I know of was the one I first looked through in 1968. It had been advertised in Sky & Telescope beginning in the late 1960's.

The solar prominence telescope that Marvin called "The New Realm Telescope," used an H alpha filter which was tuned by tilting. Together with an occulting disk that completely masked the sun's disc, this telescope made it possible to see and photograph solar prominences on the edge of the sun's circumference through a system of lenses, an adjustable occulting disc, and filter. Later, using what Marvin called "stagger tuning" of two filters – double stacking – made it possible to view the entire disc of the sun without masking the sun's surface with the occulting disk. This series filter design was incorporated into the final model that Marvin called the "Model SPT."
I'm guessing that this H-alpha telescope did not use an etalon? The use of interference filters for solar observation pre-dated the use of the Fabry-Perot etalon by several years (I see references to the early 1960's).
Isn’t an etalon a type of interference filter?


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by Bob Yoesle »

Yes, both are interference filters. But they have different constructions. Etalons are generally much narrower in bandpass but allow multiple harmonics to pass, while bandpass interference filters are wider in bandpass but better blocked for a single filter construction.

I'm not sure what the filters used by Marvin Vann were - I assume more likely a dielectric coated filter. I visited last fall hoping for a nostalgic re-encounter, but the telescope is apparently no longer at the Foothill College, and the 16 inch Newtonian was replaced by a 16 inch SCT.


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It was a bit of a letdown :?

They did have a piggybacked Coronado 60 as seen above...

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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

I see the Coronado 60. It’s dwarfed by the Meade 16” SCT.


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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by mdwmark »

Hi group,
Who was the first to use an Mica etalon. Well I posted about Del Woods and Daystar. That was 1975, I attached the front paper that SpectroLab submitted paper in 1968. So They were already making Mica etalons before that. Also attached is the front page of J.A. Dobrowolski paper. They talk about working on them in 1956. But SpectroLab was the first that I know who sold the commercially. Also George Carroll was building scope these filters.
solar filter paper.pdf
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Re: When was the first hydrogen alpha solar telescope available for consumers?

Post by AmitBajpayee »

The first hydrogen-alpha (Hα) solar telescopes became available for consumers in the early 1970s. The development and availability of Hα solar telescopes allowed amateur astronomers and enthusiasts to observe the Sun in the specific wavelength of light emitted by hydrogen atoms in its atmosphere. This wavelength provides valuable information about solar prominences, filaments, flares, and other solar phenomena. Hα solar telescopes continue to be popular among solar observers today.


[https://agnisolar.com/][/solar power system]
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