BIG SUNSPOT: This detailed image of sunspot 1195 looks like it was taken by one of NASA's most advanced space telescopes. In fact, it comes from someone's backyard in the Netherlands. Scroll down for the full story, and carefully examine the starscape as you go:
Photographer Emil Kraaikamp explains: "I took the picture on April 23rd using a 10-inch telescope with a white-light solar filter. The sunspot is so large, I could see plenty of details." Indeed, the primary dark core (at the top) is more than two times wider than Earth. With such dimensions, the sunspot group may be clearly resolved even from humble backyards.
All around the sunspot, the stellar surface is literally boiling. The blobs shown so clearly in Kraaikamp's picture are solar granules, akin to rising blobs of water in a pot on a hot stove. These blobs, however, are made of plasma and they are about the size of Texas.
more images: from Martin Gembec of Northern Czech Republic in Central Europe;from K. Snyder, Z. Parsons-West and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Luca Tesoro of Mercogliano, Campania, Italy