The fiery surface of the sun is seen in brilliant detail in images recently sent to SPACE.com by astrophotographer Paolo Porcellana.
To capture the stunning sun photos from Asti, Italy, Porcellana used a Vixen ED100SF f/9 feq 2300mm telescope, Daystar Quantum 0.5 and ERF 100, Chameleon Mono, Baader TZ-4 solar filter and Celestron 0.63 focal reducer to capture the close-up image of the sun. The photographer’s full disk shot of the sun was taken using A&M TMB 115 f/805mm, Chameleon Mono camera, Lunt LS50F telescope and BF 1200. The image was processed as a 15-image mosaic, 250 frames stack each with Firecapture 2, Autostakkert 2 and Photoshop CS3. These images were released to SPACE.com Aug. 14.
Warning: Never look directly at the sun through binoculars, telescopes or with your unaided eye. Severe eye damage, and even blindness, can result. Astronomers use special filters to safely observe the sun and protective glasses are required for solar eclipse viewing.
One of more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, the sun resides at the heart of the solar system. Roughly one million Earths could fit inside it, as it holds 99.8 percent of our solar system’s mass. Nuclear reactions bring core sun temperatures to more than 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The visible part of the sun is about 10,000 degrees F (5,500 degrees C).
The sun is currently in the midst of an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle and is expected to reach its peak activity in late 2013. The current sun weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
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 email@example.com.