If there is one word that resonates with 2020, it’s “corona.” And although we are all fed up with that word, it is pretty exciting and worth exploring. The Sun’s corona is the outermost area of the Sun’s atmosphere. The corona is made of plasma- a hot ionized state of matter. Because of the Sun’s core brightness, you are not able to see the corona by looking at the Sun, (something you should never do). However, the corona is visible with the naked eye at the peak of a total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse is when the Moon travels between the Earth and the Sun. During this time, the Moon blocks the Sun from Earth, and a glowing white corona can be seen haloing the eclipsed Sun.
The corona can reach incredibly high temperatures but is about 10 million times denser than the Sun’s surface. This low density makes the corona a lot less bright than the surface of the Sun. In fact, the corona shines only half as bright as the Moon.
Researchers have recently been able to map the corona’s magnetic field. This will help scientists predict solar flares that can potentially harm Earth. Understanding what leads to solar eruptions, is essential, as they sometimes emit charged particles at Earth that can damage our satellites and power grids.
Although corona is a word, we don’t like to hear, studying it can help protect our technology!
When & where to view the corona for the remainder of the 2020s
Date: December 14, 2020
Where: South Pacific, Chile, Argentina, South Atlantic
Date: December 4, 2021
Where: Antarctica, Southern Ocean
Date: April 20, 2023
Where: East Timor, islands of eastern Indonesia, and the seas and oceans closeby.
Date: April 8, 2024
Where: Mexico, United States, Canada
Date: April 12, 2026
Where: Greenland, Iceland, North Atlantic, Spain
Date: August 2, 2027
Where: North Atlantic, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Indian Ocean
Date: July 22, 2028
Where: Indian Ocean, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific