Total eclipse of the Sun, 2 December 1870.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithographic colour print isued by Harvard College Observatory in 1876, showing the corona around the Sun during a solar eclipse. The pearly and ghostly light is only seen during the brief period of totality when the Moon blocks the dazzlingly bright surface of the Sun. The corona forms the outer and very tenuous atmosphere of the Sun, an envelope of highly ionised gas, superheated to over a million degrees centigrade. Etienne Leopold Trouvelot (1827-1895), a French artist, made these sketches during the solar eclipse of 2 December 1870 from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.