The Sun, our closest star, is also a complex and active part of the solar system. On Sunday July 8, 2018 we witnessed sizable activity in the form of a large solar prominence extending from the surface captured in the picture.
In our region of space, the Sun is responsible for filling it with highly energetic particles that interact with everything from planet’s magnetic fields, to your skin, to the beautiful Aurora at the poles, etc. A solar prominence is one mechanism the Sun has to release these high energy particles. The others are Solar Flares, CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) and more.
A solar prominence can range in size. They can grow very small to greater than the diameter of Jupiter. In addition they can disconnect from their origin point and land on the Sun’s surface hundreds of miles away.
Heliophysics is the study of the Sun. See NASA on their website. This study is complimented by space weather professionals. Moreover they study the Sun to protect our technology. Our technology is sensitive to the Sun’s influence. In 1989, the Quebec black out was caused by a CME. The high energy particles from the Sun, induced currents in the power lines which overloaded transformers and well destroyed them. Knowing when they occur, give us a few hours to prepare. Governments and companies can shut down their satellites and prepare powergrids for the surge in energy. This saves billions.
The Sun’s Beauty
In light of this power, the Sun is so dynamic that it can be viewed for hours, days, and weeks of enjoyment. Equally important, always view the Sun safely by using a telescope specific for viewing. Enjoy and clear skies!
This summer night was meant to be a warm evening capturing Jupiter, Venus & Saturn. Mercury just happened to appear near the horizon and I thought I should give it a shot.
Just after sunset, the horizon is still very bright. The Sun had to set further before the planet made it’s appearance. Mercury is not going to hang out with you for very long. So as long as it is up, you’ve got to be prepared or like me, move quickly to capture.
While Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, its surface temperature swings from -280 F (-170 C) to 800 F (430 C). It is also the smallest planet in the solar system and it’s year is about 88 Earth days. If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s named after the Roman god Mercury. Our exploration of Mercury includes a flyby from Mariner 10 and orbital exploration from the Messenger spacecraft. In typical fashion, Messenger was disposed of by crashing down onto the planet after exhausting it’s fuel.
Shape & Color
The inner planets are visibly similar to the Moon. Because of where they located in the solar system, they have phases. In this picture it has a gibbous shape. Throughout the year it
will look full or crescent. You can put together a single shot with Mercury in the many different phases. It’s also very orange or sometimes pink. This is because of it’s location in the sky when you see it. It’s very low and you’re looking through the largest amount of air possible. The atmosphere bends the light more at the horizon so it exhibits a simlar color as the sun during sunset.
I like it! It’s going to be a rare capture for me, but this is good for a first attempt. Share with me your Mercury experience in the comments below.