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Personal Solar Observatory

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Barlow Bob’s Personal Solar Observatory

There are simple ideas that amateur solar astronomers can use to improve their solar observing. Using the K.I.S.S. Principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), I created Barlow Bob’s PSO Personal Solar Observatory. This is an extremely portable low-tech solution, to reduce solar light pollution.

Light pollution continues to decrease the amount of dark night sky sites, for amateur astronomers. However, amateur solar astronomers are also affected by solar light pollution. Amateur solar astronomers, who only observe one star from sunrise to sunset, may find it difficult to block out the light pollution from this one extremely bright star.

To prevent the natural solar light pollution from ruining your enjoyment of solar observing, I would like to introduce Barlow Bob’s Personal Solar Observatory. Audrey Salvatore, a member of the Rockland Astronomy Club in Suffern, NY, made a PSO for me. This consists of two-sided white and black pieces of cloth.

Purchase a yard of medium or heavy weight black cotton fabric at least 44 to 45 inches wide and a yard of medium weight white fabric 44 to 45 inches wide. The white fabric should cost from $4.95 to $7.95 per yard. The black fabric should cost from $5.95 to $8.95 per yard.

 Sew the two pieces with right side together, with a 1/4 inch seam around the edge leaving an opening along the side, to turn it right side out. Press before turning to set seam. Turn and press it again so the seams are all pressed out.  Whip stitch the opening closed. Sew a top stitch 1/4 inch from the edge all around.  This makes a cloth approximately 44 x 36 inches. This should be big enough for everyone.

When observing the Sun, place this cloth over your head with the white side facing the Sun.  The white side keeps the inside cooler, than if you place the black side facing the Sun. When you place this shield over your head while observing the Sun, your pupils will open in the darkness under the shield. You will notice much better contrast, without the interference of the glare from daylight. When you first enter a dark movie theater on a sunny day, everything is extremely dark. Then as your pupils open in the darkness, you can see the inside of the theater.

This PSO makes a big difference observing the Sun. You can also use this product to block out stray light pollution, when observing the night sky.

Please consider making this PSO, as a club project, at a meeting or star party. You could also sell these as a club fund raiser.

Barlow Bob


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