The Sun: A Pictorial Introduction

The slides in this collection were written By P. Charbonneau and O.R. White–April 18, 1995.

Solar Corona image
Solar corona at eclipse, 3 November 1994, Putre, Chile.

This image of the Sun's corona was recorded during the total solar eclipse on 3 November 1994 by the HAO team in Putre, Chile. The dark center is the disk of the moon as it passes between between us and the Sun. The darker coronal regions at the top and bottom of the lunar disk mark the Sun's north and south polar caps, respectively, and these polar regions contain faint plumes of coronal plasma outlining the poloidal magnetic field of the Sun. The most striking coronal features at eclipse are the white streamers extending from the sun into the interplanetary medium. These streamers are visible because light from the very bright solar disk, now behind the moon's disk, is scattered to us by electrons in the streamers. The small bright features just outside the moon's edge are solar prominences glowing red by fluorescence from hydrogen atoms. All of these solar features are only visible at eclipse because, without the moon to block the bright solar disk, sunlight scattered by particles in the earth's atmosphere overwhelms the faint coronal emissions. The sudden appearance and disappearance of the solar corona at eclipse gives the viewer the impression of an almost mystical event lasting for only a few minutes.