Figure Eight: Skywatcher Captures Sun's Graceful Curve

Analemma of 2011-2012
More than 30 images were taken to make this composite photo of the sun's movement across the sky in 2011. The images shows what scientists call the analemma, the movement of the sun in the sky over the course of a year. The background image was also taken separately without a solar filter. (Image credit: Tamas Ladanyi / /

The backdrop of this image may seem to be an ordinary residential neighborhood, but the effect captured within is truly out of this world.

The dots forming a curved figure-8 pattern in the sky mark where the sun appeared every day at exactly 9 a.m. local time in the small town of  Veszprem, Hungary.

The photo was taken by skywatcher Tamas Ladanyi from a backyard in Veszprem. Ladanyi took 36 images of the sun throughout the year and then created a composite of the images to show the interesting pattern. This particular pattern is called an analemma.

The tilt of the Earth's axis and its variation in speed when rotating around the sun causes the graceful figure-8 pattern.

In the analemma, the upper and lower extremes of the curve represent the summer and winter solstice dates. On the equinox dates, the sun is usually at the halfway point on this pattern between the solstices.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for She began writing and producing content for in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.