Happy Easter SUN Day!

The entire universe in blog form
April 20 2014 7:30 AM

Happy Easter SUN Day!

Today is Easter Sunday, a Christian holiday. It actually has a tie-in with astronomy, since it’s celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full Moon after the March equinox. The equinox was March 20, and the full Moon was Monday (during the lunar eclipse, not so coincidentally), so here we are.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

As is the case with most holidays in America, there’s a secular component to it as well. In this case, the Easter Bunny (which originated in Germany, incidentally) started out with religious connotations, but now resembles more of a lagomorphic Santa Claus.

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Whatever the origins, and whatever your beliefs, I think we can all agree that it’s fun to bite the ears off a chocolate bunny first (and/or perform hideous experiments on Peeps). So with an eye toward the astronomy and a tongue firmly in cheek, I present to you a picture of the Sun taken by astrophotographer Göran Strand:

© Fotograf Göran Strand
Wascally, isn't it? Click to lepusenate.

Photo by Göran Strand

What you’re seeing there is the edge of the Sun to the upper right, and a detached prominence to the lower left. A prominence is a huge blast of solar gas blown off the Sun by intense magnetic fields; usually these are connected to the Sun’s surface but sometimes become detached. It’s almost as if it…

[takes off sunglasses]

… hopped off the Sun.

Also, to give you an idea of its size, Strand included a picture of the Earth … the shape of which he changed to match the theme.

Or maybe Strand is a Heinlein fan. After all, it was he who once wrote, “The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in it.”

That’s a fine sentiment for any season.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Strand took this photo on Sept. 4, 2013. But how could I resist running it today?

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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