Photo of the Day: 11 March 2010

Photo: Miloslav Druckmuller/Barcroft PHOTO OF THE DAY 11 MARCH 2010 Shooting a million miles or more out into the hard, cold vacuum of ...

11 MARCH 2010

Shooting a million miles or more out into the hard, cold vacuum of space, this fiery halo is one of the wonders of the universe.

Whipped into gigantic swirls by the Sun's ferocious magnetic fields, the shell of super-hot gas is as beautiful as it is dangerous.

It's called a corona and can't normally be seen because of the brightness of the Sun, a broiling sea of hydrogen gas at 10,000c. But during a solar eclipse, the Moon blocks out the Sun and the corona is spectacularly revealed.

This extraordinary image is a montage, digitally stitched together from 38 photos taken in Mongolia in August 2008 by veteran eclipse hunter Miloslav Druckmuller.

"This high-resolution image shows not only the inner corona in the delicate details but surprisingly the lunar surface is recorded in the quality not very far from an image taken during the full moon. Even small Craters are clearly visible on the lunar surface. It is necessary to align the solar corona and the Moon separately in order not to Blurr one of these two parts."

Even though there are small pink areas resulting from over-exposure, the result is still the clearest picture yet of this extraordinary phenomenon. To understand it is to come closer to grasping the awesome power of the Sun.

"This extremely high-resolution image shows fascinating details above the Eastern limb of the Sun. The resolution of Coronal details is probably on The Edge of possibilities of digital SLR cameras. The limiting factors of the image sharpness are not only the optics, focusing, tracking and vibrations but also movements in the solar corona during the total eclipse. The resolution of the higher resolution image version presented on this page is 1.78 arcsec / pixel. The full resolution of the original data is 0.89 arcsec / pixel."

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