Ok, I need to throw a little science in today, although, I find beauty and wonder here as well. I needed to find a picture and noticed the moon when I was outside this afternoon. I could shoot the moon, but I could do that any time. It was daylight and I actually had time to image the sun.
Yes, this is really the sun, as seen in white light. We are used to seeing those amazing orangish pictures of the sun, showing solar flares and prominences. We'll I'd love to image like that too, but an H-Alpha scope is not in my budget. So, I used my regular telescope, and made a homemade, white light filter with solar film I ordered from a physics supplier in Illinois. Standard warnings here, never look at the sun, especially not with any type of magnification like binoculars or a scope. That being said, this film allows 1/10,000 of the light go through the filter, making it safe to look or photograph through it.
I remember when I first saw images of the sun, it amazed me to see such a defined edge to it. Somehow, it felt like there should have been giant rays of light coming out of it, like we used to color with our yellow Crayola crayons as little children. Well, that's not quite the reality of it. :-)
This solar cycle (about every 11 years) started off quite slow. But, it's certainly active enough now. The biggest sunspot on the lower side of the sun is sunspot 1158. The next biggest one visible is 1161, toward the upper left. And, you can barely see it to the upper right, but there are a couple tiny spots for 1157. I uploaded a full size picture, so please click on it and it will open up large in a new page, allowing you to see the spots much better.
If you are up during the night and live relatively far North, go outside in the dark and look North for possible auroras the next couple nights, compliments of sunspot 1158. Once in a while, we'll have auroras visible as far South as Iowa, but not often. Sorry, Texans, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to auroras. :-) Enjoy!