Have you ever seen a sunrise like this? A self-identified astrophotographer captured images of an annular eclipse on the morning of December 26, 2019. The dramatic picture have since gone viral, earning a nod from NASA as the Astronomy Image of The Day.
Athens-based photographer Elias Chasiotis was visiting Al Wakrah, Qatar last month to record the eclipse, which was only visible to observers along a narrow band of Earth. During a full annular solar eclipse the Moon appears completely surrounded by a ring of fire caused by the background Sun.
Chasiotis snapped the sunrise in a series of images that seem to track the Sun rising in two distinct pieces. The NASA website explained, “The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically-reddened Sun is the Moon — but so is the dark peak just below it. This is because along the way, the Earth’s atmosphere had an inversion layer of unusually warm air which acted like a gigantic lens and created a second image.”
This rare phenomenon of atmospheric optics is known as the Etruscan vase effect, referring to an optical illusion where a symmetrical vase is alternatively viewed as a pair of identical faces. The photograph shows the sun as a pair of curved horns emerging from the horizon, which the amateur photographer described on his Facebook page as the most stunning sunrise of his life.
An annular eclipse happens when the moon is farthest from Earth, when it seems smaller and does not block the entire view of the sun.
Chasiotis continued to photograph the eclipse as the sun rose, posting the pictures on Facebook where they swiftly went viral. He credits friend and professional photographer Iakovos Strikis with image processing. Three years ago, the American postal service created bespoke stamps to honor a solar eclipse, perhaps Qatar will snap up Chasiotis’s copyrighted images to do the same.
The next solar eclipse, also an annular eclipse, will occur in 2020 June.
All images by Elias Chasiotis