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The Sun, Ready For Its Closeup: Who You Callin' A Dwarf?

A portrait of the sun rendered in the hydrogen alpha spectrum. i i

A portrait of the sun rendered in the hydrogen alpha spectrum, by Alan Friedman Alan Friedman hide caption

itoggle caption Alan Friedman
A portrait of the sun rendered in the hydrogen alpha spectrum.

A portrait of the sun rendered in the hydrogen alpha spectrum, by Alan Friedman

Alan Friedman

An image of the sun taken by Buffalo, N.Y., photographer Alan Friedman has become an Internet sensation, thanks to the massive image's eye-popping amount of detail. Friedman tells Wired that his portrait is an homage to Halloween.

Friedman attached a hydrogen-alpha filter to his telescope to improve the visibility of the sun's surface detail. After all, the sun burns through 600 million tons of hydrogen a second.

The images were originally black and white. Friedman added some color, choosing orange to give the average earthling a sense of familiarity, and to make what he calls "a Halloween image."

You can check out the Wired interview for more on his technique. As I was reminded doing some fact-checking, our sun's light is actually white, not yellow or orange — the colors that the light takes on as it passes through Earth's atmosphere. Still, it's classified as a yellow dwarf star, so what can you do?

Over at his web site, Friedman has a huge version of the image, with some closeup shots of the surface.

Believe it or not, NPR has full coverage of Halloween — here are a couple of my favorites. Check them out if you can't get enough pumpkin in your life:

Keeping with the photography line, Claire O'Neill and Mito Habe-Evans of NPR Multimedia succeeded in turning a pumpkin into a camera. I can attest to the weeks and weeks of work that went into this.

And in Ukraine, the pumpkin is dreaded. "An old tradition held that a would-be suitor would visit a woman's house to propose. If the answer was yes, there was family toasting and celebration. If no, the poor guy was silently handed a pumpkin," as David Greene reports.

Then there's this post from the All Tech Considered blog, about people carving elaborate Star Wars-themed jack-o-lanterns. If you want to do that yourself, get started — it can take more than 10 hours.

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