Phenomena caught dancing across the Sun in jaw-dropping detail

An astrophotographer has captured the Sun in incredible detail, revealing the growing solar activity happening across its surface.

1 minute & 28 seconds read time

Scottsdale, Arizona, resident and astrophotographer Mark Johnston pointed his photography instruments at our local star and captured solar activity in great detail.

Using his 60mm hydrogen alpha-modified refractor, Johnston managed to snap some incredible images of the solar activity occurring on the surface of the Sun. More specifically, the images showcase the chromosphere, which is a thin layer of plasma that is positioned between the Sun's visible surface (the photosphere) and the corona (the Sun's upper atmosphere). Within the chromosphere are what we see in the images: swirls of filaments, prominences, and spicules.

Solar filaments are large regions of very dense, cool gas held in place by magnetic fields. These filaments can extend outwards beyond the surface of the Sun, which changes their name to solar prominences. As for spicules, these are dynamic jets of plasma within the Sun's chromosphere, and they are as wide as 186 miles and can travel between 9 and 110 miles per second.

Phenomena caught dancing across the Sun in jaw-dropping detail 5611514

"I was fortunate to have good 'seeing' that morning, which is not common," Johnston told ExtremeTech in an email. "When imaging the Sun or planets, it's vital that the atmosphere be calm and steady. Any turbulence can significantly diminish the quality of your images. I take 10-millisecond or shorter exposures to help 'freeze' the seeing. So I had the fortunate combination of interesting activity on the Sun and good seeing to capture it."

Phenomena caught dancing across the Sun in jaw-dropping detail 62266226

"The Sun is a fascinating target for astronomers because it is so dynamic," said Johnston, who also serves as vice president of the Phoenix Astronomical Society and as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. "The Moon, planets, and stars are fun to look at, but are always essentially the same every time you see them. Meanwhile, the flow of plasma [on the Sun] creates beautiful arcs, spikes, and other shapes."


Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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