Our Striped Star
September 17, 2001
The above image shows the setting Sun looking more like Jupiter than our home star. Differences in temperature near the surface and the lower atmosphere often cause a noticeable flattening appearance of the Sun's upper and lower limbs. When joined by clouds near the horizon, the distorted Sun can add a touch of majesty to the end of the day. The Sun can be distorted in the some pretty remarkable ways. For instance, the Sun's disk can appear nearly square when it sets, or it can take on the shape of a Chinese lantern, or it may even hover above the horizon as a thin strip for several minutes before finally disappearing. Because the Sun's usually too bright to observe with the naked eye, even at sunset, you should use a piece of exposed film or the filter from a camera to protect your eyes.