Archives For solar

Image: Eclipse Commemorative Transforms at a Touch

Eclipse Commemorative Transforms at a Touch – Credit: USPS

On August 21, 2017, tens of millions of people in the United States will have an opportunity to view a total eclipse of the Sun. A total solar eclipse was last seen on the U.S. mainland in 1979, but only in the Northwest. The eclipse this summer will sweep a narrow path across the entire country—the first time this has happened since 1918. The U.S. Postal Service® anticipates this rare event with a stamp celebrating the majesty of solar eclipses.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the first U.S. stamp to use thermochromic ink, which reacts to the heat of your touch. Placing your finger over the black disc on the stamp causes the ink to change from black to clear to reveal an underlying image of the moon. The image reverts back to the black disc once it cools. The back of the stamp pane shows a map of the eclipse path.You can preserve the integrity of your Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever® stamp pane with our protective sleeve specifically designed for stamp preservation.

The stamp uses a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak of a total solar eclipse that was seen over Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. Mr. Espenak also took the photograph of the full moon that is revealed by pressing upon the stamp image. The reverse side of the stamp pane shows the path across the United States of the forthcoming August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse and gives the times that it will appear in some locations.

A total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on Earth. The 70-mile-wide shadow path of the eclipse, known as the “path of totality,” will traverse the country diagonally, appearing first in Oregon (mid-morning local time) and exiting some 90 minutes later off the coast of South Carolina (mid-afternoon local time).

A total solar eclipse provides us with the only chance to see the Sun’s corona—its extended outer atmosphere—without specialized instruments. The corona during an eclipse looks like a gossamer white halo around a black disk, or like the petals of a flower reaching out into space.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp. 

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is being issued as a Forever ® stamp. This Forever® stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.

Source: United States Postal Service

Image: Path of the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse - Courtesy

Path of the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Courtesy

Planning is underway for a public event celebrating the upcoming August 21, 2017 solar eclipse. The eclipse will begin at 1:07 PM and end at 3:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Maximum eclipse will occur locally at about 2:30 PM EDT. Details are developing but the Hiram Eclipse Watch will take place on the Hiram College campus and will be free and open to the general public — everyone’s invited!

The so-called “American Eclipse” or “National Eclipse” will be a total solar eclipse (Moon covering the entire solar disk) only for those situated on a relatively narrow path stretching from the Pacific Northwest to South Carolina and the Atlantic. For the balance of the Continental United States, the eclipse will be partial — the Moon will cover only part of the Sun. Northern Ohioans will see a bit more than 80 percent of the Sun covered by the Moon reducing the Sun to a brilliant crescent!

We have created and are regularly updating a page on this website dedicated to Hiram’s eclipse event; check there for event details as they develop. We hope to see you August 21 for a fun and memorable experience.

To reach our Eclipse Watch page see the menu at the top of this page, or click here!

Train of Sunspots, November 4, 2015. Photo by James Guilford.

Train of Sunspots, November 4, 2015

An impressive train of sunspots has been making its way across the face of our nearest star this week. In the photo above: Designated AR2447 (small group to the left), AR2443 (bigger and darker, near center), and AR2445 (far right), the “Active Regions” have the potential of unleashing flares. In fact, AR2445 was the source of a flare that caused this week’s “northern lights” sighted across northern latitude locations around the world. Now rotating over the Sun’s limb, AR2445 won’t be aimed at Earth for a while — if ever again — but AR2443 has potential for high-energy flares.

Photo credit: James Guilford. Canon EOS 7D II: ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250 sec., 400mm lens with Astrozap film solar filter, heavily cropped, November 4, 2015, 2:22 PM.

Photo: Image showing granular structure of the Sun's photosphere. Photo by James Guilford, Stephens Memorial Observatory.

Granular Sun – July 20, 2015

Testing out a modified eyepiece adapter today, I had the vintage Cooley Telescope pointed at the Sun. Since everything was set up, I decided to see whether we could capture decent images of our nearest star, near noon on this clear summer day. While the sky was clear, the seeing — quality of the view — was not as good as I’d hoped. Apparently, midday heat was causing the image to “shimmer” in the eyepiece and the photographs reflected that. Examining the pictures on the computer screen, I was disappointed because I saw no details in the several sunspots visible. As I made some photographic adjustments, however, other features came into view: granulation and faculae! The granules, upwelling super-hot cells of solar atmosphere, are easy to see; they give the image above a “grainy” appearance. Faculae are a bit trickier but if you look along the darker right-hand edge of the solar image, you will see some light-colored patches — those patches are faculae! So a bit of disappointment changed to a sunny day surprise.

NOTES: Sunspots in this image are #2387 (L) and #2386 (R). For more information on the Sun’s photosphere and what can be seen there, visit this page at NASA/ Marshall Space Flight Center.

Photo: Earth's Sun on May 7, 2015. Photo by James Guilford.

Earth’s Sun – May 7, 2015 @ 12:23 PM EDT

Our Sun is just past the peak of its 11-year activity cycle but has been unusually quiet of late. Many days we have seen few, if any, sunspots marking the star’s face. Over the past few days, however, there has been an uptick in activity including the passage of large sunspot region AR2339 (lower-right in our photo). The sunspot has been the source of major solar flares including one that interfered with radio communications in the Pacific region. This image is a single exposure made using a digital SLR camera held to the eyepiece of the Cooley Telescope at Stephens Memorial Observatory. A white-light filter was used for the protection of equipment and vision. A good article on the current solar cycle can be found here.