Closer to Totality

I don’t remember who first said it, but one way to improve your photographs is to move closer. This is good advice because we often lose the subject in the frame of the image and moving closer brings more attention to the subject. The same is true for images of totality, but the problem is how to get closer to it? Even with my telescope and its 740 mm focal length (a magnification of about 15x), the sun during totality does not fill the frame. Great for images of the corona, but I want to get closer for some of the details of the eclipse phenomena. My only option is to crop the images, so I have been playing with that. Fortunately, the camera I used has a lot of megapixels, so the cropped images don’t suffer too great a loss in quality.

The image I’ve included here is one such example. It is my favorite image so far that I’ve processed of totality. I captured this frame about 3 seconds before the end of totality. The bright magenta-colored areas are part of the outer layer of the sun known as the chromosphere. Since “chromo” drives from the Greek word for color, you can see that the “chromosphere” is very aptly named. The red color is due to ionized hydrogen atoms, which emit red light under the conditions found in this region of the sun. It has to be pretty hot in the chromosphere to make this happen!

The chromosphere is very thin, sort of like the skin of an onion on the outer layer of the sun. Surprisingly, the density of the chromosphere is relatively low, especially compared to other regions of the sun. If you could have a bottle of the chromosphere here on earth, it would be a vacuum, just like the vacuum in a fancy thermos bottle used to keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. Isn’t it amazing that during totality we can see these features from such a thin layer of the sun that has such a low density of atoms? And the fact that my telescope captured these images simply flabbergasts me!

Look closely, and you can see that the chromosphere is a turbulent area. This is indicated by the red plumes of gas that rise above the surface. There are several plumes evident in this image, the biggest on the right side of the solar sphere. Known as prominences, these plumes can be huge. If you were to place the earth near the prominence in this image, the earth would be about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Personally, I’m glad that we are 93,000,000 miles away from that nasty stuff!

Such beauty in such intensely energetic areas! This is common in our solar system and in our galaxy and in our universe. When I finally calm down from the eclipse (if I calm down from the eclipse), I’m looking forward to pointing my telescope and camera toward other celestial objects. For now, enjoy this close-up of totality. I personally can’t stop looking at it! I’ll share more images in a couple of days. For now, I need to get some things unpacked and organized. Wish me luck on that!

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  1. This is one fantastic image!!! And your comments are really informative. This post should have really great appeal to many of the thousands who just wanted to see the eclipse, but want to know more about it. THANKS!


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