These images of the Sun were taken at 11:50 am EDT on March 20, 2013, at the Public Observatory at the Museum in Washington, DC. Considering that the Sun is near solar maximum, it was a relatively quiet star that day.
Both images were taken with a telescope that filters out all of the Sun’s light except for one narrow color of the rainbow.
For the image on the left, we tuned the filter to a red color that shows the activity on the surface of the Sun. This is similar to a “white-light” or natural-light view of the Sun, which is what visitors see when using the Sungun mounted on the main telescope’s 4” finderscope. Therefore, we colored this image to show what the Sun looks like in white or natural light.
This view of the Sun reveals the surface, or photosphere, of the Sun. Features of the photosphere include sunspots -- magnetic storms on the Sun, each as large as the Earth -- and faint, white gas clouds called faculae.
For the image on the right, we tuned the filter to a specific color of deep red light, called Hydrogen-alpha light. By looking at the Sun in precisely this color, we can study the atmosphere, or chromosphere, of the Sun.
Sunspots are not as apparent in this view. Features of the chromosphere include prominences -- arches of gas extending off the edge of the Sun -- and bright gas clouds called plages that are usually found around sunspots.
Telescope: Lunt 100mm Hydrogen-alpha
Camera: Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2M
Image Number: WEB12810-2013
Credit: Photo by Geneviève de Messières and Kaitlin Evans, Smithsonian Public Observatory Project
For print or commercial use, please contact: Smithsonian Institution
Reproductions are not currently available. If you would like to use this image as-is, please submit a permission request.