Sun Pictures: A Full Year in a Single Frame – Analemmas

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Sun’s Path in 2010
Can a single picture sum up all of 2010? In a way, yes. The above multiple-exposure photo shows the figure-eight path of the sun over the course of the entire year, known as an analemma.

Analemma photographs are made by taking a picture of the sun from the same place at the same time of day once or twice a week, generating 30 to 50 frames. This picture, made in Veszprem, Hungary, combines 36 photos of the sun taken at 10 a.m. local time between January and December. A separate picture of the neighborhood taken from the same location but at a different time of day was digitally composited into the foreground.

The sun makes this shape over a year because Earth rotates on a slightly different axis than the sun, and our planet also travels on an elliptical orbit. As one hemisphere of Earth tilts farther from the sun, the arc of the sun’s daily path seen from that location lowers toward the horizon. The sun’s arc then gets higher in the sky as the tilt reverses. The sun’s highest point in the sky, seen in this analemma, occurs during the summer solstice, while its lowest point is during winter solstice. (Find out about a lunar eclipse that happened on the 2010 winter solstice.)

Because of the time and precision involved, photographs of analemmas can be very difficult to produce. So far, only about 20 people worldwide have released successful analemma photos, according to Babak Tafreshi, founder of the astrophotography website The World at Night (TWAN).

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More detailed information:National Geographic