Total Solar Eclipse

The moon blocks the disk of the sun allowing us to see the sun's atmosphere (corona).
Royal Astronomical Society

Title: Total Solar Eclipse

Maker: Helen Mason - Emeritus Reader in Solar Physics

Techniques used: collage and embroidery


"A total solar eclipse is an awesome experience. It is the only time that we can see the Sun's atmosphere (corona or 'crown of light') with our own eyes from Earth. The Sun is normally much too bright and looking at it can damage your eyes. During a total solar eclipse the Moon exactly blocks out the Sun's disk and we see the spectacular corona. The disk is a million times brighter than the corona. The corona is very hot, about a million degrees Celsius, whereas the surface of the Sun is only around 6000 degrees Celsius. This mystery is something which solar scientists are trying to understand. The corona is so hot that it is charged (a plasma) and follows the Sun's magnetic field. This gives us beautiful structures in the corona. I am passionate about the Sun and have been fortunate to experience three total eclipses, 1998 in Guadeloupe, 1999 in the UK and 2017 in the USA. They were all spectacular. Everything around goes dark, cool and quiet. I love stitching, so making this collage patch was a real pleasure, bringing back wonderful memories and reminding me why I love solar science so much. I lead a team of scientists and artists who work with schools, running creative activities. The project is funded by STFC. See the website link below.

I am passionate about the Sun, solar eclipses and solar science. I have worked on many solar Observations from space (SoHO, Hinode, Solar Dynamics Observatory) in the X-Ray and Ultraviolet wavelength ranges.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this RAS Quilt project, meeting regularly via Zoom, sharing ideas, astronomy and textile art. The mix of participants has been wonderful, a good way to get through these difficult months. Working together with a common purpose."

Website/Social media: Twitter - @helen_hm11 //