The Sun - May 1, 2013

The Sun - May 1, 2013

These three views of the Sun were taken at the Public Observatory on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The one on the left was taken at 3:05 pm EDT while the other two were taken at 11:50 am EDT.

Using different filters, the three images reveal different features of the Sun.

At center, the surface of the Sun (or photosphere) is shown in white light - the overall color of the Sun. The Sun is peppered with sunspots. All four sunspot groups were active on this day, crackling with low-level C-class solar flares.

The image at left was taken with a telescope which filters out everything but one color of deep purple light. This color shows the atmosphere of the Sun, including bright clouds called plages around the sunspots. Areas of intense magnetic activity, like sunspots, stand out dramatically with this telescope.

The image at right was taken in one color of red light, showing plages as well as different features of the Sun's atmosphere, including prominences of gas extending off the edge of the Sun.

The close-up views show sunspot group AR 1731. Its tangled magnetic field holds the potential for strong solar flares. And, in fact, AR 1731 unleashed two stronger M-class solar flares in the next two days, including one while the Observatory was open to the public on Friday. During that flare, the plages around this sunspot group glowed brightly for about half an hour. This image was taken 90 minutes before that flare.

Telescopes: Lunt 60mm Calcium-K (left image) and Lunt 100mm Hydrogen-alpha (other two).

Camera: Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2M

  • WEB12860-2013

  • Copyright/Owner: Smithsonian Institution
  • Source: Smithsonian Public Observatory Project
  • Photographer: Genevieve de Messieres and Shauna Edson
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