The Solar Eclipse Perception Problem

The Solar Eclipse Perception Problem

It is generally known that the faint Solar Corona can be observed during a Solar Eclipse.

A total eclipse occurs when the dark silhouette of the Moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible.

The Solar Corona can also be observed by using a coronagraph.

A corona (Latin, ‘crown’) is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other celestial bodies.

The Sun’s corona extends millions of kilometres into space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but it is also observable with a coronagraph.

A coronagraph is a telescopic attachment designed to block out the direct light from a star so that nearby objects – which otherwise would be hidden in the star’s bright glare – can be resolved.

Most coronagraphs are intended to view the corona of the Sun, but a new class of conceptually similar instruments (called stellar coronagraphs to distinguish them from solar coronagraphs) are being used to find extrasolar planets and circumstellar disks around nearby stars.

However, a side-by-side comparison of a Solar Eclipse photograph [taken from the Earth’s surface] with a Solar Coronagraph image [taken by satellite] shows that the two images of the Solar Corona are difficult to reconcile.

The satellite image below shows a very narrow [360°] Solar Corona [plus a large Coronal Mass Ejection] whilst the terrestrial Solar Eclipse shows a much larger 360° Solar Corona.

Eclipse vs Coronagraph

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a massive burst of gas and magnetic field arising from the solar corona and being released into the solar wind, as observed in a coronagraph.

Some of these visual differences can probably be attributed to the various photographic techniques [and technologies] employed by satellites and terrestrial photographers.

However, there are also differences than could be attributed to the range of filters [both atmospheric and inter-planetary] through which Solar Irradiance passes before it encounters a terrestrial camera.

Solar Eclipse Filters

Obviously, the big difference between a Solar Eclipse image and a Coronagraph image is the backlit Moon that causes the Solar Eclipse.

Therefore, based upon mainstream science, a Solar Eclipse image could capture visual artefacts produced by:

a) Solar Irradiance as it passes through the Lunar Exosphere [containing gas and dust].
b) The Solar Wind as it passes around the Moon.
c) Solar Irradiance as it passes through the Lunar Sodium Tail.
d) The Solar Wind as enters the Earth’s atmosphere [down to the Ionosphere].
e) Solar Irradiance as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere to the surface.

Lunar Artefacts

Some features captured by terrestrial Solar Eclipse photographs include features [such as Solar Prominences] that are easily reconciled with the satellite images.

Solar Prominences

Popular Science Monthly -1901-1902 – Volume 60

However, that still leaves a lot to reconcile in the terrestrial Solar Eclipse images.

Prominence Perspective

Like the South Polar Streamers.

South Polar Streamers

Popular Science Monthly -1901-1902 – Volume 60

Therefore, it’s probably worth taking another look at some Solar Eclipse images…

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Atmospheric Science, Cosmic Rays, Earth, Geomagnetism, Moon, Solar System. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Solar Eclipse Perception Problem

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