“On May 5, 2012, while everyone else was waiting for the “Super Moon” astrophotographer Alan Friedman was out capturing this super image of a super Sun from his back yard in Buffalo, NY!
Taken with a specialized telescope that can image the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, Alan’s photo shows the intricate detail of our home star’s chromosphere — the layer just above its “surface”, or photosphere.
Prominences can be seen rising up from the Sun’s limb in several places, and long filaments — magnetically-suspended lines of plasma — arch across its face. The “fuzzy” texture is caused by smaller features called spicules and fibrils, which are short-lived spikes of magnetic fields that rapidly rise up from the surface of the Sun.
On the left side it appears that a prominence may have had just detached from the Sun’s limb, as there’s a faint cloud of material suspended there.”
If you took a picture of the Sun at the same time each day, would it remain in the same position? The answer is no, and the shape traced out by the Sun over the course of a year is called an analemma. The Sun’s apparent shift is caused by the Earth’s motion around the Sun when combined with the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis. The Sun will appear at its highest point of the analemma during summer and at its lowest during winter. Analemmas created from different Earth latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. The analemma pictured to the left was built up by Sun photographs taken from 1998 August through 1999 August from Ukraine. The foreground picture from the same location was taken during the early evening in 1999 July.
The Sun’s rotation creates a spiral pattern in the solar magnetic field in interplanetary space, known as the Parker spiral. The drag produced by the spiraling magnetic field causes angular momentum to be transferred away from the Sun. This diagram shows the heliospheric current sheet that separates the regions of space where the magnetic field points toward or away from the Sun.
This year’s second total lunar eclipse on Saturday (Dec. 10) will offer a rare chance to see a strange celestial sight traditionally thought impossible.
For most places in the United States and Canada, there will be a chance to observe an unusual effect, one that celestial geometry seems to dictate can’t happen. The little-used name for this effect is a “selenelion” (or “selenehelion”) and occurs when both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time.
But wait! How is this possible? When we have a lunar eclipse, the sun, Earth and moon are in a geometrically straight line in space, with the Earth in the middle. So if the sun is above the horizon, the moon must be below the horizon and completely out of sight (or vice versa).
And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky; so in a perfect alignment like this (a “syzygy”) such an observation would seem impossible.
A solar prominence is a feature from the Sun’s surface that reaches out to space. It is often shaped as a loop and, although actually very large, cannot be seen without the aid of a strong telescope and some filters. Just how large they really are? Well, the largest ever to be observed, which was captured by SOHO, was estimated to be 350,000 km long. That’s nearly ten times the entire circumference of the Earth.
This image shows the approximate size of the Earth compared to the Sun. The Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter and the Sun is 865,000 miles in diameter.
Here is one of the sharper views of the Sun ever taken. This stunning image shows remarkable details of a dark sunspot across the image bottom and numerous boiling granules which appear like kernels of corn across the top. Taken in 2002, the picture was made using the Swedish Solar Telescope operating on the Canary Island of La Palma.