NASA isn't the only source for high-resolution photos of the sun. Using a telescope, an industrial webcam (the same kind that's used to capture license plates on cars running red lights) and a technique called lucky imaging, amateur astronomer Alan Friedman is able to create some remarkable images of the sun. It's not the most complicated of processes, although it's not exactly simple, either:
"To record my images, I use a filter that passes only a narrow slice of the deep red end of the visible spectrum. Called a Hydrogen Alpha filter, it is attached to the front end of a small (3 ½” aperture) telescope. Think of it as a 450mm f5 telephoto lens. The camera used is an industrial webcam. It can stream images at a speed of 15 to 120 frames a second."
Once the images are captured, Friedman composites thousands of frames into one photo and adjusts it for color:
"The raw material for my work is black and white and often blurry. As I prepare the pictures, color is applied and tonality is adjusted to better render the features. It is photojournalism of a sort. The portraits are real, not painted. Aesthetic decisions are made with respect for accuracy as well as for the power of the image.
The end result are these gorgeous photos of the sun that our naked eyes will never be able to see, unless we get a heck of a lot closer and put on our hydrogen alpha filter sunglasses. But Friedman's way is much, much easier.