In 1997, my husband, Rémi Lacasse and I finally found a location where we could build a house with an observatory attached. He wanted to do astrophotography in his retirement. We are located on a mountaintop at 1500 feet of altitude. Retirement came on January 1st, 1998 and the house and the observatory were built in the summer. The observatory floor is at 25 feet above ground and is connected to the house by a passageway standing in as a control room for picture acquisitions. In early March 2000, Rémi made a filter for my 8 inches Celestron and my first sunspot looked like a flower on its stem. The next day I wanted to see it again and naturally it had evolved. Disappointed, I decided that in the future I would draw them, as to keep a record of their forms. The more convoluted they are the more fascination they exert on me. I work from a permanent installation at ground level.

 I utilize pencils left from an apprenticeship in the early sixties : 9 pencils from 4H to 7B ( hard lead for faint details, to very soft for the darkest ones). The filter is a Baader, which give black sunspots on a white Sun. With experience, I learned to find the sunspots direction and tried to keep the same orientation on the drawings day after day. Standing up at the eyepiece, with pencils and eraser nearby, I start by marking lightly where each sunspot group starts and finishes. Looking through the eyepiece, I proceed to draw every little spot I can see, trying to keep the proper distance and orientation between each one. Many drawings took much more than an hour. I found that the more complex a sunspot is, the more difficult it is to keep the drawing to scale. I go for accuracy of details, so most of my sunspots are twice as big as they should be.

Sun spots are formed as a result of electromagnetic energy. Year 2000 is a year of maximum activity for the sun in an 11 year cycle. The rotation of the sun is 27 days (25 days in the center and 27 days at the poles).

In my telescope, the spots come in from the right and disappear on the left 12 days later. On a small sheet of paper it is difficult to draw the spots proportionally with all the details. The
point of the pencil is bigger than some spots in the telescope.

Lise Charlebois