During a total solar eclipse, our view of the Sun's disk is blocked entirely by the Moon. The Sun's corona, however, remains very much in view – a roiling wreath of spellbinding atmospheric activity.
The image above was captured by Czech photographer Miloslav Druckmüller on July 22, 2009, when the Moon blocked our star from view for a whopping 6 minutes and 39 seconds. It was, and will remain, the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century. From the Enewetak Radiological Observatory on the Marshall Islands – an archipelago in the northern Pacific Ocean – Druckmüller managed to capture a series of images of our Moon in transit, with the express purpose of photographing not just the Sun's blockage, but the extent and shape of its corona. Writes Druckmüller on his blog:
The expedition to Enewetak was a part of the Shadow-tracking Expedition project, which is being organized by me and my daughter Hana at Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic. The goal of the "Shadow-tracking expedition" project is to obtain observing data from various places during the total solar eclipse, which enables to study changes in the solar corona. The second observing place was in Suzhou in China. The observing conditions at our observing place at Enewetak enabled us to realize majority of our plans. Unfortunately, in Suzhou it was raining during the eclipse.
The images you see here are composites, assembled from dozens of photographs taken with multiple lenses and a variety of exposure settings to bring the Sun's corona into view.
Gorgeous, right? Here's what blows our mind: according to Druckmüller, all of the observers in his group "group stated that it was the weakest corona they had ever seen." Nonetheless, he was able to capture images like this one, which show the Sun's corona extending outward to distances of 6 solar radii:
For the full story behind these images – including tons more hi-res photos, camera settings, and project descriptions – visit Druckmüller's website. Tust us, it's worth the visit.
[Spotted on COLOSSAL]