Have you ever wondered what several million degrees looked like? If you thought the sun was hot, and we advise you to never look directly into the sun, then just wait until you see the outer atmosphere of the sun. During the upcoming total eclipse on August 21st, viewers within the path of totality will have the rare opportunity to look directly at the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona.
But be advised, only look directly, when safe, during totality. It’s during totality when the extended outer atmosphere of the sun, or corona, will glow like a white crown around the dark solar disk as it comes into view. This all will take place during second contact, or the second stage of the eclipse and will provide the viewer a once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of nature’s most incredible and majestic experiences.
Why Can We Only See The Corona During An Eclipse?
The outer atmosphere of the sun is called the corona and is thin which emits a faint light which easily gets overwhelmed by the bright light of the sun. Matter of fact, the corona is estimated to be 10 million times less dense than the sun’s surface.
During a total eclipse, as the moon moves past the sun and temporarily blocks the body of the sun, all that remains to the eye is the corona, or glowing white crown.
This glowing white crown appears as white streamers or plumes of ionized gas which are flowing outward into space from the sun.
Coincidentally, there is another way to see the corona and that is with the use of a coronagraph telescope which actually simulates an eclipse by covering the bright solar disk.
Why Is It Called The Corona?
The word “corona” is a Latin word meaning “crown”.
What Is The Temperature Inside The Corona?
This is a bit of a mystery to astronomers. The temperature of the corona is extremely high from anywhere from a million to several million degrees. But, what makes it a mystery is how it can be much hotter than the surface of the sun, which is just a mere simmering 6,000 degrees. Some believe, yet without any definitive explanation, that the intense magnetic fields around the sun play a part in why the corona is so much hotter than the actual surface of the sun.
Yet, with its low density, the corona emits relatively low heat.
What Can Astronomers Learn From Observing The Corona?
What happens in the corona, doesn’t stay in the corona. What astronomers can learn from observing the corona in such a setting as a total eclipse is critical to how it affects the rest of our solar system.
In the corona, we can observe many different types of solar events, such as giant solar eruptions like solar flares, the origin of solar wind as well as the flow of charged particles which are continuous from the sun. These solar events are critical as they shape the nature of the space around our planet as well as the relationship between the Earth and sun.
Throwing A Party With Coronal Loops And Streamers
You may have seen pictures of the sun before where you see what looks like shafts of light looping to and fro the surface of the sun. These are caused by the sun’s magnetic fields which affect charged particles in the corona to form beautiful features. These include loops and streamers.
How Many Layers Does The Sun Have?
With the corona being the outer atmosphere of the sun, it makes it the thin top layer of 6 very distinct layers. The layers are all either a gaseous or plasma state. The other 5 layers are the core, radiative zone, convective zone, photosphere, chromosphere, and then the corona.
Why Is It Only Safe To Look During Totality?
The only time it is safe to look at an eclipse with the naked eye is during the totality phase of the eclipse. But with anytime the sun’s bright disk is visible, which is during the partial phases, be advised to always use proper eye protection when viewing these partial phases of the eclipse.
Not taking the proper precautions of viewing the partial phases of an eclipse can result in what many experts call eclipse blindness, or a condition called solar retinopathy. This happens when the retina, which is located at the back of the eye and is light-sensitive, is exposed directly to the bright light of the sun.
Experts even state that even if 99% of the sun’s surface is visible, it is still intense enough to cause retinal burn.
Where Will You View The Eclipse Of 2017?
Did you know that right here in Madras, Oregon is where many experts are saying is the best place to view the total eclipse? And to celebrate this rare event, Organic Earthly Delights is opening our farm up for the camping experience of a lifetime.
Offering you a front row seat to view the Great American Eclipse and a rare chance to see the sun’s corona, we invite you to join us. Learn more about our special glamping package for the upcoming August 21st eclipse here.
But don’t delay, spaces are filling up fast.