Most Detailed View of a Solar Eclipse Corona
Only in the fleeting darkness of a total solar eclipse is the light of the solar corona easily visible. Normally overwhelmed by the bright solar disk, the expansive corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere, is an alluring sight.
But the subtle details and extreme ranges in the corona’s brightness, although discernible to the eye, are notoriously difficult to photograph. Pictured above, however, using multiple images and digital processing, is a detailed image of the Sun’s corona taken during the 2008 August total solar eclipse from Mongolia.
The Iron Sun
Swirls of red and green represent highly charged iron streaming from the sun’s upper atmosphere, captured by a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center astronomer during a total solar eclipse in 2008.
Ground-based eclipse pictures from 2006, 2008, and 2009 are offering some of the first images of iron-ion emissions from the solar corona. The images show that these emissions extend outward at distances equal to one and a half times the sun’s width. Pictures taken during solar eclipses can help scientists understand the solar corona, which affects potentially dangerous space weather.