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Home Astronomy Total Solar Eclipses Image Reference: 1998-902-14

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Corona with Earthshine on the Moon, Seroe Colorado, Aruba - Netherlands Antilles       26 February 1998

Corona with Earthshine on the Moon, Seroe Colorado, Aruba - Netherlands Antilles       26 February 1998

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We know that the moon passing in front of the sun is what causes solar eclipses. To our visual system, the moon is totally dark. However, cameras and film do not see it that way.

From the lunar surface, one would see a full Earth with the dark lunar shadow projected as a spot on the Earth. The Earth, with water, ice and clouds reflects much sunlight onto the lunar surface. We see this earthshine in clear skies on the crescent moon with the sun below the horizon. People have recorded Earthshine during total solar eclipses since at least 1970.

Solar eclipse photography deals with extreme dynamic ranges between the brightest parts of the chromosphere (prominences), the distant outer corona and the lunar surface. Properly rendering the solar corona on film and especially on paper or screen is very difficult. Recently, people have developed techniques combining different exposures of the solar corona using software. Digital cameras fit for this task have been available only in this century.

My procedures involve using Fujicolor professional print films. These films, favored by wedding and portrait photographers, have very accurate colors, low contrast and very high dynamic range. Thus I can retain most of the information on film and either render a conventional enlarged print or use a SilverFast driver with my film scanner to display most of this information.

This 1/4 second exposure reveals earthshine on the moon surrounded by the solar corona. Aruba is a favorite tourist destination with many luxury hotels. The sky cleaning service arrived late, forcing my wife and me to shelter my equipment in a van. The eclipse began behind clouds which fortunately moved off and dissipated in time. The corona was large and bright, much bigger than what I saw in 1994 from the Altiplano. Without aerosols in the way and with the help of SilverFast, I produced this image.

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