This image of the solar corona was acquired on 23 December 1996 at 04:44 UT by the LASCO instrument on the SOHO spacecraft. Thhe LASCO instrument is a set of three coronagraphs that image the solar corona from 1.1 to 32 solar radii. It is convenient to measure distances in terms of solar radii. One solar radius is about 700,000 km, 420,000 miles or 16 arc minutes. A coronagraph is a telescope that is designed to block light coming from the solar disk, in order to see the extremely faint emission from the region around the sun, called the corona.
The image shows the inner streamer belt along the Sun's equator, where the low latitude solar wind originates and is accelerated. Over the polar regions, one sees the polar plumes all the way out to the edge of the field of view. The field of view of this coronagraph encompasses 8.4 million kilometers (5.25 million miles) of the inner heliosphere. The frame was selected to show Comet SOHO-6, one of seven sungrazers discovered so far by LASCO, as its head enters the equatorial solar wind region. It eventually plunged into the Sun.