A photographer and die-hard solar observer has captured absolutely stunning views of a colossal filament of super-hot plasma snaking its way across the surface of the sun.
Veteran astrophotographer John Chumack took the new sun photos on Aug. 11 despite cloudy weather from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio, using a DMK 21 and DMK 31 Cameras and Lunt Hydrogen Alpha Solar Scope. The close-up images are 1/77-second exposures and the full disk shots 1/436-second exposure.
What looks like a snake-like cloud in the new sun photos is actually a solar filament made of primarily charged hydrogen gas. The sun’s magnetic field holds the gas in the atmosphere giving it the shape seen in these images. The filament appears dark because it is cooler than its surroundings. These filaments might remain over the sun’s surface for months.
Warning: Never look directly at the sun through binoculars, telescopes or with your unaided eye. Severe eye damage, and even blindness, can result. Astronomers and solar photographers use special filters to safely observe the sun and protective glasses are required for solar eclipse viewing.