Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Solar Image Gallery - Scenic Phenomenon

Our sun and closest star is believed to be approximately 4600 million years old and is composed (by mass) of hydrogen (74.5%), helium (23.5%) and various other heavier elements (2%) such as oxygen and carbon. Due to this gaseous state, the sun does not rotate about its axis at one uniform rate but has the poles rotating at a slower rate than the equatorial region. It has a central temperature of 14 million degrees whereas the surface temperature is a mere 5500 C. With a diameter of 1.4 million km, it is about 109 times as wide as Earth whereas with a mass of 2 x 1030 kg, it is 335,000 times more massive than Earth. Of interest is the observation that its density of 1400 kg/m3 is only slightly more dense than water (1000 kg/m3).

Although the rising sun may seem to occur at approximately the same azimuth when observed from day to day, a longer term observational project will reveal this to be far from the truth. In fact, if we were to mentally note the azimuth of the rising sun around summer solstice in June and repeat this exercise around winter solstice in December, we will note that the sun has shifted by approximately 65 during the intervening six months!

This "moving target" involving the rising (or setting) sun is due to the elliptical nature of our planet's orbit around the sun which is responsible for the variable arrival of the sun on the local meridian by up to 16 minutes early or late and the "Equation of Time" which is described and documented elsewhere on this site along with the variable altitude due to earth's tilt in its axis of rotation (23.45) relative to its orbital plane.

Note: The image below is an extension of a prolonged effort to capture the rising full moon against the Temple of Poseidon (450-440 BC) in southern Greece and which was finally realized in early May/2005 as well as June/2008 (for example, see here). The primary task in such an exercise is to very precisely reverse engineer the perspective of the Temple of Poseidon with respect to its physical azimuth and altitude from my shooting location approximately 1750 meters west of the foreground and the primary road which connects Sounion with Athens along the west coast of Attica. Such a distance was both desireable and ideal so as to have a greater balance between the apparent size of the Temple of Poseidon in the foreground and Sol in the background and as indicated by the image below. Two other efforts and results from the same session in addition to the image below are available here and here.

Note: For additional photos of the sun and/or full moon against other well-known Greek archaeological grounds and sites, please click here.

Image Details
Solstice Sun Over Sounion
Imaging Details

332,900 x Earth

Mean Eq Diameter:
109.1 x Earth

147 million km

RA / Dec:
16h 42m 51s /
-22 15' 22"



Dec 04, 2009
07:34:08 UT+2

Sounion, Greece

Takahashi FSQ 106/f5
AP 2x Conv Barlow
Canon EOS 5D Mk I
Baader UV/IR-Cut Filter

1 x 1/4000 sec
ISO 100
RAW image format
4368x2912 image size
Manual Mode

Digital Photo Pro V1.6.1
Photoshop CS2

RAW to TIFF (16-bit) Conv
JPG Compression