Author: Miguel Claro
On July 10, 2022, a gigantic solar prominence appeared in the sun’s chromosphere, throwing a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space.
Luckily, I happened to check the solar activity at the end of the day. Normally I don’t photograph the sun so late, as it’s normally low and close to the horizon at that time.
As soon as I realized that a huge prominence was visible and growing so fast and drastically, I quickly started shooting. The sun was lower than ideal and the atmosphere had a fine layer of dust coming from Africa. The temperature was also very high, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) at 6:00 p.m. local time. So I made a huge effort to gather as many images as possible.
The sequence was captured between 5:37 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. local time (Alqueva, Portgal) and shows the spectacular motion of the CME resulting from the solar prominence. The gradual change in contrast in the solar disc is related to the sun’s movement as it got lower on the horizon and crossed in front of the dust layer which scattered its light even more.
The final result is a 4K high-resolution solar movie composed of around one hour of images, captured from the Dark Sky Alqueva(opens in new tab) region of Portugal. The impressive motion of the prominence in the time lapse seems to swirl like a tornado.
Here are the animations from NASA SDO(opens in new tab) and LASCO-c2 (Cactus CME detection(opens in new tab)) from this same day, showing the same giant CME as seen from space.
To capture this giant, I used a refractor telescope, the Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED equipped with a Daystar Quark Chromosphere filter and a solar camera from Player One, the Apollo-M Max. The video sequence was compiled from 200 processed images, each one the result of stacking of the best 200 frames from each raw video.
Editor’s note: If you would like to see more of Miguel Claro’s work, please see his website or follow his stories on Instagram at www.instagram.com/miguel_claro.
About the author: Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory photo ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical skyscapes that connect Earth and the night sky.
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