Light Bulb Sun from Stintino, Italy

August 08, 2012


Photographer: Danilo Pivato; Danilo's Web site 
Summary Author: Danilo Pivato; Jim Foster

The photo above showing an odd shaped Sun was snapped from Stintino, Italy (on the northwest corner of the island of Sardinia) just after sunrise on July 28, 2012. The shape of a celestial object such as the Sun can seem out of this world when it rises or sets in layers of air having different temperature and/or density gradients. On occasion, localized atmospheric stratification can even result in the Sun looking fragmented as well as flattened and distorted. Because the index of refraction varies with height above the surface, even slight differences in atmospheric water vapor can alter the Sun's appearance. Furthermore, if strong thermal gradients or inversions are present, sunlight can be bent in such a way as to make our local star look almost unrecognizable to us.