TELESCOPES & BINOCULARS FOR VIEWING THE SUN
Most optical instruments can be used to view the sun. Wait, you say,
aren't we always warned NOT to do just that? That's right.
Viewing the sun without the appropriate filters would permanently damage
your eyesight. But today, we have wonderful solar filters (that can fit
over the front of the telescope or binoculars) that allow us to safely
view the surface of the nearest star - our sun. We see the sun in
normal light, where sunspots appear as darker areas and bright spots called
faculae also appear.
Special solar-viewing telescopes (or special filters fitted to normal
telescopes) can be purchased that allow us to see the sun in the deep
red light of Hydrogen Alpha. This allows prominences in the solar atmosphere
to become visible at the edge of the sun. Prominences change fast enough
that we can actually see changes occurring in them before our very eyes.
Also visible at this wavelength are plages, bright areas associated with
the darker sunspots. Most prominences and plages are larger than the Earth
and are good examples of the almost unimaginable violence going on at
the surface of our sun. Good for us our sun is about 93 million miles