Photographer Spots Giant Snake-Like Tendril on the Sun (Photo)
Astrophotographer John Chumack sent SPACE.com this photo of a solar filament. The image was taken from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2013.
Credit: John Chumack | www.galacticimages.com

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.

John Chumack took this photo of a solar filament from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2013.
John Chumack took this photo of a solar filament from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2013.
Credit: John Chumack www.galacticimages.com

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.

John Chumack took this photo processed in blue of a solar filament. The photo was taken from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2013.
John Chumack took this photo processed in blue of a solar filament. The photo was taken from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2013.
Credit: John Chumack www.galacticimages.com

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

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