Composite Photograph of the
Total Solar Eclipse of 2001

Composite Solar Corona

The Solar Corona of 2001 Jun 21
This photo is a composite from 22 separate negatives.
They have been processed and combined in Adobe Photoshop
to closely resemble the naked eye appearance of the solar corona.
A high contrast version of this photo was choosen as the Astronomy Picture of the Day - 2001 September 07.

Total Solar Eclipse of 2001 Jun 21 (Chisamba, Zambia)
Photo (c)2001 by Fred Espenak

The Sun's atmosphere exhibits a huge range in brightness that cannot be captured in any single photograph. Short exposures highlight the bright inner corona and rose-colored chromosphere and prominences but fail to record the outer corona. Long exposures wash out the inner corona but reveal faint details far above the limb in equatorial streamers and polar brushes. To render the corona approximately as it appears to the human eye, images made with different exposure times must be combined into a single composite view.

Eclipse chaser Fred Espenak made this digital composite image of the total solar eclipse of June 21, 2001 using 22 separate exposures. Observing from Chisamba, Zambia, Espenak used a Vixen 90 mm Fluorite refractor (fl = 810 mm, f/9) to photograph the corona. His paired exposures ranged from 1/250 to 4 seconds on Kodak Royal Gold 100.

After scanning the original negatives to produce high-resolution digital images, Espenak processed the images using a Macintosh iMac computer and Adobe Photoshop software. He averaged each pair of exposures to help minimize grain structure in the images. This left him with 11 digital images, each shot at a different exposure. He duplicated each image and applied a radial blur filter to the copy. Next he subtracted each filtered image from its original, unfiltered one. This produced 11 low-contrast "subtraction images" revealing fine details in the corona. Each original image was then multiplied by its corresponding subtraction image to emphasize the coronal detail more strikingly.

Espenak then added all images together one by one into a single composite image that reveals a wealth of structure over a wide range of brightness, from the Sun's limb out to several solar radii. Finally, he adjusted the sky background to approximate the dark blue sky seen during the eclipse.

"My goal is to produce a photo that comes as close as possible to what the corona actually looked like" says Espenak. A higher contrast version showing the Moon's dark face was chosen as the Astronomy Picture of the Day - 2001 September 07.

Previously, Espenak used the same digital techniques to produce a composite image of the total solar eclipses of 1998 Feb 26 and 1999 Aug 11.

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Deluxe enlargements of this remarkable image of the 2001 eclipse are now available. The original 78 Megapixel digital file has tremendous resolution permitting 300 dpi prints in poster sizes up to 24" x 30". The custom color lab operated by Tony and Daphne Hallas makes the enlargements using a state-of-the-art HP 5000 ps printer. This digital printer can achieve color fidelity and saturation superior to any analog photographic process.And since Espenak's files are digital, nothing is lost in the transition.The Hallas' are world famous astrophotographers and masters at printing astronomical photographs. They use Kodak Professional 10mil glossy large format paper for incredible color, sharpness and brilliance. Genuine HP 6-color archival quality inks with uv inhibitors ensure a long life. Under normal viewing conditions, these prints will last for several decades with no perceptual fading.

Unlike the sample image above, these custom prints DO NOT have any text or copyright labels printed on them. This allows you to enjoy the full beauty of the corona without any distractions.

Print sizes and prices:

Print Size Price Availability
11" x 14" $30 USD In Stock
16" x 20" $45 USD In Stock
20" x 24" $65 USD Special Order*
24" x 30" $90 USD Special Order*

*Special Orders require 2-3 extra weeks for delivery.

Shipping and handling:


For more than one print, add $1 ($2 Europe) for each additional print.
For rates to other countries, please contact MrEclipse..
Prints are usually in stock and available for immediate shipping
(except for Special Orders which require 2-3 extra weeks for delivery).


Cash or Check (US dollars) payable to "Fred Espenak".

All foreign (non-USA) checks require a $10 collection fee charged by our bank.
Sorry, no credit cards.

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To order:

Order Form - 2001 Eclipse Print

Secial offer! Order any two prints of the 1998, 1999, or 2001 total solar eclipses and save!
Get a pair of 11" x 14" prints for $50, two 16" x 20" prints for $70, two 20" x 24" prints for $110 or two 24" x 30" prints for $150.

Print Size Price
Set of two 11" x 14" prints $50 USD
Set of two 16" x 20" prints $70 USD
Set of two 20" x 24" prints $110 USD
Set of two 24" x 30" prints $150 USD

To Order:

1998 & 1999 Eclipse Print Sets (Order Form)

1998 & 2001 Eclipse Print Sets (Order Form)

1999 & 2001 Eclipse Print Sets (Order Form)

Order all three prints of the 1998 , 1999 or 2001 total solar eclipses and save!
Get a trio of 11" x 14" prints for $70, three 16" x 20" prints for $100, three 20" x 24" prints for $150 or three 24" x 30" prints for $220.

1998, 1999 & 2001 Eclipse Print Sets (Order Form)

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For special instructions on the care and mounting of deluxe color prints, see:

Care of Deluxe Prints

For more information and volume discounts, contact: MrEclipse

All photographs are copyright by Fred Espenak.
Please contact him (at MrEclipse for all uses of these images
in print, web, video, CD and all other media.

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Last revised: 2006 Oct 20