Phil Plait linked to this amazing photo of the Sun on the Bad Astronomy blog today. It's incredible. Like nothing I've ever seen before. The photographer is Alan Friedman. Plait explains how Friedman got this look, which is a very nice reminder that space photography is seldom really about "point and click".
Alan uses an Hα filter, which cuts out almost all the light from the Sun except for a narrow slice of color emitted by warm hydrogen. This reduces the glare hugely, and reveals delicate structures in the Sun’s plasma. He then inverts the image, so bright things appear dark, and vice-versa. That’s an old astronomer’s trick that makes fainter things easier to see.
Like this close-up? Go to the Bad Astronomy blog to see Alan Friedman's photo of the full Sun. Your mind will be blown. I promise.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.