Solar Eclipse Observation

How to Observe the Sun for Beginners

On average, the Sun is only 150 million kilometres distant – hardly a stone’s throw away in astronomical terms, and being so close, it is an easy object to observe in great detail.

However, observing the Sun can be dangerous, and very specific precautions are required to prevent destroying your eyesight, and causing damage to observing equipment.

Here is how to observe the Sun safely.

Filter out 99% of the Sun’s light

Beautiful Sunset
Beautiful Sunset. Image credit: Medscape.com

Light from the Sun as shown in the image above contains almost the entire light spectrum, which contains many light frequencies that are not visible to human vision.

Two frequencies, infrared and ultraviolet, are particularly harmful and all of these frequencies must be filtered out to make solar viewing safe.

However, despite what you may have read or heard, materials like CD’s, smoked glass, several layers of photographic film, and many others are NOT able to filter out harmful light frequencies.

The only acceptable filter materials are materials such as aluminium-coated glass and Mylar film that are made to fit over the tubes or objective lenses of ordinary telescopes.

The image below shows a typical solar filter designed to fit securely over the tube of a reflecting telescope.

Sky Watcher Telescope Solar Filter

Filters like this block out at least 99% of the Sun’s light, including all infrared light that causes optical elements to heat up, and ultraviolet light that can permanently damage the human eye’s retina.

Nonetheless, even with the harmful light filtered out, the Sun is still too bright to make out any detail, which is why solar filters suitable for use by amateur observers are designed to allow only light in the Hydrogen Alpha or Calcium frequencies through, which is the frequencies of light emitted by most of the Sun’s visible features.

Of course, there are filters available for scientific observations, but these fall outside the scope of this article.

Nonetheless, solar filters should only ever be sourced from reputable dealers that stock and supply purpose-made solar filters that are designed not to fall off, or become dislodged from a telescope or pair of binoculars, which when it happens, can blind an observer in a very small fraction of a second.

Avoid filtered eyepieces

Although no reputable dealer in optical equipment will ever supply a filtered eyepiece today, there was time when this type of eyepiece was widely available.

This type of eyepiece incorporated a “solar filter” as a part of the optical elements of the eyepiece, but the unfortunate effect of this arrangement was that since eyepieces are essentially magnifying glasses, the heat build-up in the eyepiece could, (and often did), cause the eyepiece to explode, causing instant blindness.

Use a dedicated solar telescope

The telescope shown above is dedicated refracting solar telescope that blocks out somewhat more than 99% of the Sun’s light by using proprietary coatings on the lenses.

Note that although this particular example has an aperture of only 40 mm, it gathers sufficient light to provide crystal-clear images of solar features such as prominences and filaments.

Telescopes of this type allow only light emitted by hydrogen atoms through, which just happens to be the most active atoms on, or in the Sun.

Also, note that while some solar features can be seen by projecting the Sun’s light through a pinhole, features like prominences and filaments of active solar material can only be seen in hydrogen-alpha light, which is what solar telescopes are designed to provide.

Here is what you can expect see with a solar telescope

There is always something dramatic happening on the Sun, and with some luck, you may just see a violent coronal mass ejection on your first view of the Sun through a dedicated solar telescope.

Below are some images and details of what you can expect to see…

Solar prominences

Any solar prominence is always a dramatic event.

Sunspots Through Ultraviolet Filter
Dramatic Sunspots Through Ultraviolet Filter. Image credit: NASA

These vast clouds of dense solar material are usually visible just outside of the Sun’s photosphere, and they both created, and held captive by the Sun’s enormous arching magnetic fields that shift around due to the differential rotation between different parts of the Sun.

The best views of solar prominences can be had only with a proper solar telescope.

Sunspots

Sunspots are caused when the Sun’s magnetic field breaks in places, and “snaps” back through the solar “surface” as a result.

While sunspots may appear dark, or even black in telescopic views, they are in fact only visible because they are about 2000 or so degrees cooler than the surrounding area.

Sunspots only occur in an area about 45 degrees north and south of the solar equator, which is where the Sun’s differential rotation is the greatest.

Sunspots also always occur in pairs: one spot being the north pole of a snapped magnetic field, and the other being the south pole of the same field.

Sunspots can be seen equally well through dedicated solar telescopes and solar filters fitted to normal instruments.

Solar filaments

Solar filaments are smaller, less violent versions of solar prominences, and their most distinguishing feature is that they can be seen against the Sun’s disc, as shown in the image above.

Solar filaments are best viewed with a dedicated solar telescope.

Solar flares

Solar flares are among the most violent eruptions on the Sun, and they can extend millions of kilometres beyond the Sun’s surface.

Flares are caused by sudden changes in the arrangement of the Sun’s twisted magnetic fields, and although the actual mechanism is not yet clearly understood, one does not have to be solar scientist to be awed by the sudden ejection of billions of tons of solar material, which is best seen through a dedicated solar telescope.

MAG322 IPTV Set Top Box

MAG 250 Set Top Box: What You Need to Know

Convenience is all the rage now in consumer services, electronics and pretty much everything else.

IPTV is one such technology that lets anyone anywhere in the world enjoy the TV stations of their choice, regardless of where they are.

So it cannot get better or more convenient than that for sure.

The MAG 250 set top box offers this functionality.

Its popularity serves to point out the rate at which people have taken a liking to the ability to watch TV stations they are used to.

The box mainly caters for the UK citizens and offers many popular channels that Brits must have.

There’s a whole world of vendors out there offering UK TV streams for owners of the MAG 250 set-top box, one of which is DemandUKTV who are very reputable and competitively priced.

Stable Internet Connection

IPTV requires an internet connection.

This is both an advantage and a disadvantage to a certain extent.

For the box to work, fast and stable internet is simply a must.

A poor internet connection will only frustrate you with constant buffering, stuttering, poor image quality and error messages, which can really test your patience.

If you have identified the MAG 250 set top box as your preferred method to meet your entertainment needs, investing in a stable internet connection is the first move you should make.

Adapters

Depending on the internet connection you have, it may be necessary to purchase the necessary adapters.

If you will be using Wi-Fi, a USB Wi-Fi dongle will have to be purchased.

However, the most recommended method of internet access is using an Ethernet cable, which can be directly connected to the router.

Ethernet offers a more stable connection and faster data transfer rates than Wi-Fi.

Subscription & Catch-up

The average subscription price to access channel content is around a pound a day.

Compounded, it is between 25 pounds to 30 pounds a month.

Many service providers provide a free trial period, which is normally limited to 48 hours after which you should make a decision.

Most service providers provide catch up functionality, which is quite handy.

All the programming aired on all TV stations in a period amounting to one week is recorded.

If you miss any real time content therefore, you can still easily access it through catch up.

Flexibility

In this day and age, mobile devices are more accessible than the usual TV set which can only be accessed at home or at selected locations.

In this manner, people settle towards the convenience of being able to easily access their entertainment on their smart phones, tablets, laptops and the like.

Unfortunately, the MAG250 set top box does not support this level of flexibility.

It is strictly TV only but other ways of achieving desired convenience exist.

Warranty

The MAG 250 set up box comes with a two-year warranty.

Moreover, the dedicated customer care can help you in case you have any issues.

If you want to purchase, remember to do so from authorized dealers as counterfeits have swarmed the market.

Couple Watching UK TV on Laptop

SmartDNS vs VPNs: Who’ll Win the Technology War

If the trends in the content streaming industry are anything to go by, SmartDNS is winning the war and VPN software is on its way out.

The streaming of media content has gained a considerable popularity as keeping up with television program timings is not easy, especially if two of the desired programs are being aired concurrently.

But it is not only such programs that can be streamed and watched with the help of SmartDNS and Virtual private networking tools.

People can watch the programs or episodes that they liked several times.

It is possible to share and even watch such programs on handheld devices.

What is a VPN?

VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network.

Naturally, there are no wires linking the network.

The network that is developed by the VPN software is essentially temporary.

In fact that is the reason the connection breaks down quite often.

There are many VPN software programs available in the market developed by different developers.

People have used this streaming system so far because it has served their purpose and because there were no alternatives.

Smart DNS: a Better Alternative to VPNs

But with SmartDNS now in the picture, the drawback s of VPN software are becoming more prominent.

For starters, VPN software is considerably more costly when compared to UK Smart DNS VPN services.

This factor however is not the only reason people are shifting away from VPN software based streaming.

SmartDNS is considerably faster being an established intermediate system that translates user specified host and domain names into machine language in normal course.

The other reason for people to switch from VPN software to SmartDNS is the ability to use multiple devices with a single configuration.

Indeed, in case of VPN software, people need to install software in every device.

Unlike it, SmartDNS merely requires adjustments in the networking setting and advanced settings so its far easier to access UK TV aboard on multiple devices.

Fast Hassle Free Set Up

SmartDNS is also less troublesome, i.e., the connection from which streaming is done does not disconnect frequently.

Therefore, there is no buffering and delay. With VPN based streaming, people have been putting up with this inconvenience.

But there is something that VPN software is good at, and that is protecting the identity of the person streaming the content.

A lot of effort goes into developing a software program that has the required safeguards against such compromise.

Each such VPN software program incorporates this feature because such security is the bread and butter for VPN software now.

On the other hand, SmartDNS has absolutely no safeguards, and therefore, is a risky way of streaming content.

VPN software programs are encrypted making it difficult for hackers to easily understand the networking and locate the user.

With every new trick that the hacker comes up with, the need to alter the VPN software program becomes imperative.

Such modification costs money, which is the reason such software is expensive and will increase in costs in the future.

But it would be unfair to condemn the Virtual Private Networking tools for they may still come up with something that overcomes all their drawbacks, at least most of them.

For now, though the VPN software developers have developed a comprehensive tool called Open VPN software which can be used on different platforms and with different browsers.

Sky Viewing Card Inserted in Digibox

Sky Viewing Cards: How to Order in France

Since 1990, Sky television has forged the way in home television entertainment to subscribers within the United Kingdom.

It destroyed many barriers that established terrestrial television providers were unable to break, such as offering pay-per-view events including major sports fixtures and latest released movies.

Sky also gave us a much wider range of television, most notably from the United States and in more recent years, from other places including Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

In the past, where there was just the usual range of BBC and ITV channels to deliver the same boring choice of TV shows, Sky suddenly opened up a whole universe of television entertainment.

Now more than two decades later, we are in the technological age of home entertainment where not only can you still watch TV via satellite dish, you can also watch content ‘on-demand’ at a time and place of your own desire on numerous devices at home or away.

The world has moved fast and without doubt, Sky has been an major part of that.

Where other TV stations have followed, Sky television has been an innovator and leader of new technologies.

So with such a forward looking attitude, is it any wonder that Sky is just as universal today as it ever was?

Watch the best of UK television all across France

With the expansion of the European Union, the world has become a smaller planet.

With that, many Brits have decided to leave home and start a new life overseas, most notably in sunnier climates such as Spain, Portugal, southern France, Italy and Greece.

Some however have migrated to the likes of Switzerland, Austria, Poland and many other eastern European countries.

We are without doubt a nation of expanding ex-patriots.

However like most Brits, we favour our television and given the choice, we still prefer to watch our own, familiar TV entertainment rather than the local offerings.

That’s why so many of us who have departed the country, still have the longing to watch UK TV where they live.

This rising demand has led to many overseas suppliers of Sky TV in France to arise from the shadows and start offering UK television abroad.

The issue is, there are many companies who are operating outside of the law and in many cases, offering pirated and illegal services that could be ceased.

Worse still, these services could put the customer in a position of difficulty under EU laws.

So with that in mind, how can you find a legitimate and legal provider of Sky television?

Finding a quality Sky viewing card seller

Believe it or not but there are a good range of reputable suppliers of Sky viewing cards.

But separating them from the rogues is the difficult trick.

Here’s a few ways to locating a supplier you can trust and count on:

Secure Website

Look for the lock symbol when searching for a reputable supplier of UK television service sin your local area.

If their website is secure, it shows you they have taken steps to secure your data and ensure your credit card details is only transmitted over a secure, encrypted connection.

Google treats sites using HTTPS with greater priority so if you’ve found a site that doesn’t use security, don’t use them and move onto the next one.

UK Business Address

If you’re purchasing a Sky card using a UK credit card, your best option is to buy from a UK supplier.

By doing so, your transaction will be protected under UK law but also, you’ll be able to chat to an English language speaking native if you ever need help.

Any reliable supplier can post a Sky viewing card to virtually any country across Europe as the postage fees are low and delivery should be quick and easy.

Telephone Support

Select a seller that offers telephone as well as email support.

Email only backup tends to ensure you are kept at a distance, whilst telephone calls give you the opportunity to talk to someone and find out what their support is like.

If you get through, ask a few questions and then get the idea for whether you can count on this supplier.

Avoid Scams

Online auctions tend to list a large number of fake and hacked Sky cards.

The same can be said for online forums, Facebook pages and numerous other social media websites.

If they don’t have a website with a permanent business locality, do not trust these sellers.

Consistently, they will send you a bogus card that either works temporarily and will get disconnected shortly after use!

Be satisfied with your choice!

Once you’ve found a supplier who ticks all of the above criteria, you should be ready to go online and purchase your service.

Accessing Sky TV in France is fairly straightforward in most European countries nowadays but locating a supplier who is trustworthy and professional is another problem altogether.

So with just a little homework and checks, you should be able to make a well judged and wise choice.