Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Spectrograph - a real science thing

Eclipse chasers do more than just hope to see a total solar eclipse (a remarkable thing to behold), some are hoping to gather data useful to scientific investigations of the Sun. The data desired is to help measure the exact size of the Sun, search for traces of elements and new atoms in the solar atmosphere, and to see the effect of atmospheric scattering amongst other things. New cameras and instruments are expanding our ability to gather this data.

One instrument not normally in the arsenal of amateur astronomers is a good spectrograph. Simple spectrographs are fun to play with but they don't show the resolution needed to really identify most emission and absorption lines. Most major observatories have spectrographs and in many cases they are bulky or require special setups to use. Spectrographs are useful in astronomy when studying the composition of stars and other objects.

During a total solar eclipse, around the time of the diamond rings, the light from the Sun goes through an amazing sequence of change. Spectral images of this time can be quite important to those studying the transition layers of the Sun from the photosphere on out to the corona. Images captured during those fleeting moments by cameras equipped with basic spectrographs are called Flash Spectrum images. Click Here for an example.

Icarus Optometrics FLASH-SPECTRUM-TSE2015-1024x697.jpg

I was contacted by Aris Voulgaris who is marketing a spectrograph that does not use a slit. The company is Icarus Optomchanics. They have a website at https://www.icarus-optomechanics.com where you can learn about their tool. It is well designed for use with a digital camera and can be mounted in line on most telescopes.

Normally I don't plug one commercial product or another but this is very unique. So for any astrophotographers looking to expand their work and maybe even go after the Flash Spectrum, check them out!

I did contact them and inquire about costs and delivery time. Currently they can deliver in under two weeks for a cost about US$1500. You will need to contact them directly to determine your imaging needs and custom accessories. Nice product, nice people.

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