Ten Surprises For Scientists And Skywatchers During The Total Solar Eclipse
“3.) The solar corona really did turn visibly pink in some spots. When some people looked at the corona, myself included, there were some locations around the Sun’s rim that appeared pink to the naked eye. It wasn’t your eyes playing tricks on you, although I never expected human eyes would be sensitive enough to see that color! When you ionize a hydrogen atom, which the Sun’s corona is more than hot enough to do, you create free electrons. As those electrons fall back down onto the hydrogen nuclei, they go through a series of transitions. The most powerful optical transition is a red line at precisely 656.3 nanometers. Combined with the white light of the luminous corona itself, the hydrogen line creates a pink effect where the Sun’s plasma loops near the photosphere are strongest. The pink effect was real.”
No matter how well-prepared you were for your first total solar eclipse, no amount of reading or photograph-searching could do the experience justice. There were so many things to feel, see, and be overwhelmed by that you literally needed to be there to relate to. Yet it was remarkable how many things there were that surprised scientists and skywatchers alike. The temperatures really did plummet, and they dropped by more than even the weather models predicted. There was a star and a planet visible, but not the planets we thought would arrive. The sky turned red along the horizon, which was a mystery for centuries, even after we learned why the sky is blue. And the light, the way it looked across the landscape, was a unique treat that you’ll never experience during any other time than an eclipse itself.