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A picture of the Sun made with a special camera and telescope.
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Image courtesy of the National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak

The Chromosphere

Above the photosphere is the chromosphere, a region about 2500 kilometers thick. Just prior to and just after the peak of a total solar eclipse , the chromosphere appears as a thin reddish ring. The conspicuous color of the chromosphere (compared to the mostly white corona) led to its name (meaning ``color sphere.'') The chromosphere is most easily viewed in emission lines such as Hydrogen alpha, where bright regions known as plages and dark features called filaments are visible. Filaments are the name given to prominences when they are seen on the solar disk. Spicules are visible in the chromosphere on the limb of the sun. They are jets of plasma shooting up from supergranule boundaries.

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Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Photosphere - the "Surface" of the Sun

Most of the energy we receive from the Sun is the visible (white) light emitted from the photosphere. The photosphere is one of the coolest regions of the Sun (6000 K), so only a small fraction (0.1%)...more

Solar Eclipses

An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Earth passes through the moon's shadow. A total eclipse of the Sun takes place when the Moon is directly between the Sun and the Earth. When a total eclipse does...more

The Solar Corona

Rising above the Sun's chromosphere , the temperature jumps sharply from a few tens of thousands of kelvins to as much as a few million kelvins in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the solar corona. Understanding...more

Solar Eclipses Were not Always Enjoyed

Solar eclipses are really great to watch! But in the past, people were very scared of them. They didn't understand what was going on. Some people thought that a monster or animal was eating the Sun! They...more

Helmet Streamers and the Magnetic Structure of the Corona

The gas in the solar corona is at very high temperatures (typically 1-2 million kelvins in most regions) so it is almost completely in a plasma state (made up of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons)....more

Sunspots

Sunspots are dark spots on the Sun. They may look small, but they are actually as big as a planet like Earth or Mars! Sunspots are "dark" because they are colder than the areas around them. Of course,...more

Solar Prominence

Text for this level has not been written yet. Please see the "Intermediate" text for this page if you want to learn about this topic. To get to the "Intermediate" text, click on the blue "Intermediate"...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA