Solar Corona During the Total Solar Eclipse of August 1, 2008

November 13, 2012

Solarcorona-ls (2)

Photographer: Anthony Ayiomamitis
Summary Author: Anthony Ayiomamitis; Jim Foster

November 2012 Viewer's Choice The image above shows the Sun's extended corona as viewed during the total solar eclipse on August 1, 2008 from Novosibirsk, Russia. The solar corona is millions of degrees hotter than the Sun's surface (photosphere) but is perhaps 10 billion times less dense than Earth's atmosphere. Because the charged particles that compose the corona are so extremely diffuse it can only be observed during totality when the Moon passes in front of the solar disk. Due to the great dynamic range of the eclipsed Sun and its extended corona, a single image can't capture the corona in its entirety. Some portions of the image would be underexposed while others greatly overexposed. Fifteen individual photos were used to make this image. Note that the star to the right of the Sun is Asellus Australis (delta-Cancri).

With over 10,000 visitors from all over the world converging on Novosibirsk, this spectacle had nearly all of the elements of a Greek tragedy. When I arrived in Novosibirsk, my fears surrounding the forecast for poor weather during the eclipse were confirmed. I almost made a hasty decision to drive south to Mongolia (an all day drive) where clear skies were promised. However, in the end, I stayed where I was and luckily the skies cleared about two hours before first contact and remained perfectly clear until 60 minutes after the eclipse, at which time dense clouds closed in once again.

A total solar eclipse visible over northeastern Australia and parts of the South Pacific Ocean occurs today -- or tomorrow, November 14, depending upon which part of the world one is at the time. Totality will last four minutes and two seconds at the point of greatest eclipse, just east of Australia.

Photo details: Fifteen images ranging in exposure from 1/500 sec. to 1/15 sec.