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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/108

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the spectrum lines. The writer obtained such photographs in 1898 and 1900, but with small instruments, not designed especially for that work; and it is hoped that improved apparatus will be available for the eclipse of 1905. There is need that flash spectra with both fixed and moving plates should be secured, since each system has its advantages and disadvantages. On moving plates the faintest lines might not be recorded, but a continuous record of changes in the strengths of lines, as the moon gradually covers the reversing strata, should be obtained.

The chromospheric stratum, overlying the photosphere, is of irregular depth, varying from four thousand to ten thousand miles. The reversing layer, to the best of our knowledge, is included in its lower strata. The prominences seem to be flame-like or explosive projections extending outward from the chromosphere; the matter in them previously and subsequently forming a part of the chromosphere. Many of the salient facts known about chromosphere and prominences were learned at eclipses; and they are still studied with some profit on such occasions. However, the spectroscopic method of observing them, devised independently by Janssen and Lockyer in 1868, has made the prominences, and to some extent the chromosphere, available for everyday study. But it must not be overlooked that, while fairly satisfactory observations of one or both subjects can be secured without an eclipse, yet the eclipse negatives are still imperatively needed to show the mutual relations of the various structures—reversing layer, chromosphere and inner gaseous corona. It is known that the prominences are larger and more numerous at sunspot maxima than at other times. The question whether the chromospheric stratum is likewise thicker and more distorted at sunspot maxima than at minima is a question for eclipse observers to settle. Observations of the continuous spectrum of prominences or chromosphere can by present methods be made only at eclipses.

The corona, perhaps the most fascinating solar feature, is exclusively an eclipse phenomenon. Various attempts have been made to observe it visually, photographically and thermally, without an eclipse; but all failed, and there seems to be no hope of success by methods now known. Any chance for even moderate success would seem to be limited to the inner portion whose spectrum contains bright lines. A daily record of this would, no doubt, be extremely valuable, but the real problem of the corona would remain unsolved.

In many respects the corona is as enigmatical as ever. A coronal photograph is the result of a projection upon and into one plane, at right angles to the line of sight, of all that remains of the sun after subtracting the volume of matter hidden by the moon. The tops of some coronal streamers, the intermediate portions of others, the bases of those near the limb and the corresponding parts of prominences