By Phil Plait | October 9, 2011 11:00 am

I love the images of the Sun taken by astrophotographer Alan Friedman. I love pareidolia. And I love cryptozoology.

So of course I love love love this:

[Click to sasquatchenate.]

Pareidolia is the trait of seeing recognizable objects in random patterns (usually, but not always, faces). Cryptozoology is the study of fabled creatures like Nessie, or the chupracabra, or… I don’t know, for a totally random example, let’s say Bigfoot.

Still not sure what I mean? Maybe this’ll help:


OK, I’ll be a pedantic dork for just a sec, and say that this is actually just a prominence, an eruption of ionized gas off the surface of the Sun, guided by the twisting and churning solar magnetic field. Prominences can take all sorts of shapes — even angels and dragons — as they launch upward and fall back down to the Sun’s surface.

Alan Apeman — urp, sorry, I mean Friedman — takes simply amazing pictures of the Sun which I feature here all the time; see the Related posts section below for many more. And you should keep an eye on his pictures. Who knows what you’ll find in them?

Image credit: Alan Friedman

Related posts:

Seriously jaw-dropping picture of the Sun
The boiling, erupting Sun
The delicate tendrils of a solar dragon
For your viewing pleasure: Active Region 1302


Comments (36)

  1. As always, Alan’s work fascinates me! Especially ones featuring such PROMINENT cryptozoological personalities. ūüėČ

  2. Pat Myers

    That can’t be Bigfoot because Bigfoot ain’t real. It’s clearly a colossal alien space ghost from Counter-Earth.

  3. Rob

    Wait… do Bigfoot sightings increase with solar activity? OH MY GOD IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

  4. James H. (south of Dallas)

    Ok NOW I see it. My first thought was “a baseball picture shaking off signs from the catcher”.

  5. Chris

    Cryptopareidolia – The trait of seeing fabled creatures in random patterns.

  6. Dragonchild

    I’m amused that this post, of all posts, is tagged under “Skepticism”.

  7. Anon

    First thing I thought when I saw that was “My god, they’ve found Mewtwo!”

    What does that say about me?

  8. Daniel J. Andrews

    So that’s where he went to. Nessie can’t be far away then.

  9. DemetriosX

    David Brin was right!

  10. Chief

    Hmm. I first thought of a Y or partial X chromosome.

    Guess I’m a bit too earthbound to see the light.

  11. MadScientist

    That’s not BigFoot – it’s obviously Gumby.

  12. Digital Atheist

    Idgits! It is OBVIOUSLY the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man.

  13. Infinite123Lifer

    Pareidolia. We just saw hawks, a dog, a bird, a butterfly, a spider, a triceratops, a man and a dog, a man sitting, and more all in the sky whilst sitting on a countryside eyes skyward watching the Sun do its daily dance throughout the landscape. Above us the sky was darker blue and the blue got brighter the further out you could see.. We also noticed clouds literally forming and strengthening very quickly right in front of our eyes. Seeing shapes in clouds with family is cool. Pareidolia . . . ok, have to check it out, but it sounds bad.

  14. Bette Noir

    I also thought it looked more like a chromosome than a hominid, but I saw a dandy puppy in the clouds the other day.

  15. Chris

    It looks like that frog from Fringe.

  16. Infinite123Lifer

    How about a spirit hovering over a figure.

  17. CR

    OK, Phil, you’re going to “be a pedantic dork for just a sec”, huh? Only that long? That’s rather a short time for you… ūüėČ
    Just kidding, as I’m pedantically dorky enough to know better than to seriously call anyone else out on being so… :)

  18. B.R.O.G.

    I see a mermaid breaking up through the water’s surface. The dark spot where Phil sees Bigfoot’s left shoulder is where i see the mermaid’s right nipple. Top left dark pattern is the hair.

    Just sayin’…

  19. RwFlynn

    I’ve got a couple of Alan’s photos saved on my computer. His photography is always fascinating to me. Time to add to the collection!

  20. TheBlackCat

    Phil, off-topic but did you hear about the astrology company shutting down a server used to synchronize time across the internet?

  21. Ron Batchelder

    I was at AstroFest 2011 , in downstate NY , Vestal . Alan Friedman was there , among others . Alan Showed this photo , with a few chuckles and comments , and then we all had a great laugh . But if anyone ever get the opportunity to go and see him , Please do so ~ his slides and photos are so stunning. Alan is such a great person to talk to , discuss anything with him and to just enjoy as a person .

    Ron B

  22. pedro

    Chupacabra not Chupracabra
    Best regards from Per√ļ ¬°¬°¬°¬°¬°¬°¬°¬°

  23. mike burkhart

    I think this could be a alien made out of plasma and is prof that there is life on the sun! or maybe Iv’e been watching to munch scifi . Im just kiding but it is a posiablty that aliens life forms could be made of energy many of Star Treks aliens were.

  24. Renee

    Hey … watch out! It looks to me like he has a GUN!

  25. Clearly sasquatch attempted to walk on the sun, but was vaporized, duh. That had to be a hard moment to capture. Good job Mr. Friedman.

  26. Walkway49

    @ Renee, I thought he was pointing at something that he wanted everyone to see. Anyway, I’m still waiting to see the Phoenix rise again; the Phoenix does come from the sun, right? Tell me this; how dark does your telescope / camera lens have to be to take a close-up picture of the sun and make its fiery surface look so smooth? Not trying to be sarcastic here, just curious.

  27. Colin B
  28. Jote

    OK, I‚Äôll be a pedantic dork for just a sec, and say that it’s chupacabra, not chupracabra.

  29. Sameer

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