My goodness... That's incredible. Please, if I may ask: how much reference material do you use? I mean, I wouldn't think that you painted this out of the top of your hear... right? The amount of detail is astounding. You also conveyed the feeling of 'not wanting to be on Mercury, because of the heat' well.
The details in the sun itself are flawless. But (unless it was for artistic reasons) wouldn't the sun get dimmer along the edge instead of brighter since we are looking at more of it head on towards the center - a bit like this [link] which even you gotta agree it's a damn good Sun
Using smoke for the flares was a goo idea, though one can doo similar with fractals - that's what I thought they were
If anything it'd be more or less uniform, although brightening could occur along the edge due to flares or other prominent events. This has to be a somewhat artistic interpretation at any rate just from an exposure point of view.
as always Greg very sweet.. i can't believe no one has said this reminds them of your old piece inevitable because thats exactly what i thought of when I first saw it the uneven glow of the sun and the scale of venus really really gives it an amazing amount of compositional strength too that you seem to be above and beyond capable of always achieving.
actually come to think of it, some of the flares within the main body of the sun might be skim milk in water as well. I forget. But the side flares are assuredly incense photography. I spent a few night compiling quite a collection for exactly this sort of effect. The next image from ETP I post also made use of incense (for aurorae).