Science: Eclipses to Order

Like a great dahlia, the sun is ringed with petals of light. The inner corona, one-millionth as bright as the sun's heart, is dazzling yellow, the outer corona pearly white, with delicate, wraithlike streamers. Often the corona is racked by violent eruptions that produce magnetic storms through the earth's atmosphere. But it is impossible to detect such phenomena with an ordinary telescope, for the sun's brilliance obscures its crown. For years astronomers rushed to the ends of the earth, chasing eclipses so they could photograph the corona for a few minutes while the...

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