From Earth, the Sun generally just looks like a big bright ball, but there's a lot of activity up there that we don't notice with our puny human eyes—especially because it's not exactly wise to look directly at the Sun. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, however, was designed to do just that, and it captures some breathtaking views of the star that makes Earth's habitability possible.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captures images of the sun in ten different wavelengths (each assigned a different color), and they've shared this 30 minute video of that footage "in unprecedented detail."
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was photobombed a couple days ago, and shared a photo of the event. They explained that "though SDO sees dozens of Earth eclipses and several lunar transits each year, this is the first time ever that the two have coincided."
I know, I know -- I don't get modern art, either. Luckily, the picture above isn't a painting -- it's a visualization of the heating and cooling of plasma erupting from the sun in solar flares. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took images and gathered data on the plasma from a particularly active sunspot on six wavelengths over a twenty four hour span, then processed the data and recorded it's hating and cooling history -- one pixel at a time. The result is this amazing image and plenty of others like it, and you can check them all out -- and learn more about how they're made -- in the video below.
This amazing photo of the Sun -- taken by astrophotographer John Chumack through a filter that renders it blue, and would probably make a really good tool if you ever needed to defeat Superman -- shows some of the dozens of sunspots that have been flaring up on the surface of the Sun over the past few days. Chumack snapped some pictures through a couple different filters, and you can actually see the sunspots -- which show up as white spots in this image -- more clearly in the photos below. While you're at it, you can get a look at new video -- courtesy of NASA -- that will get you as up close and personal as you can be with the Sun and still not be vaporized. What can we say, we just couldn't resist leading with a bright blue picture of the Sun.
Yesterday saw witness to one of the rarest predictable astronomical events: The Transit of Venus. Like a miniature eclipse, Venus passed between Earth and the Sun, treating viewers to sight that (thanks to an orbital quirk) happens only twice in a lifetime. While no one on Earth will see this again until 2117, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory space telescope definitely had the best view in the house. See some of its astounding pictures and video, after the break.
A huge solar flare that has erupted from the Sun has unleashed a massive solar storm that is headed toward Earth, and predicted to reach us tomorrow morning around 7 AM EST. A storm as powerful as this one hasn't been seen in more than five years, and the effects of which are predicted to last 24 hours after the storm hits. It's possible that the storm will cause interference with satellites in orbit and power grids on Earth, but people in the know don't seem too worried. The above video of the solar flare, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, is a gorgeous side effect of potentially dealing with interrupted power grids tomorrow. Good trade-off, right?
In early February, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured footage of whirling tornado-like storm on the surface of the sun. This enormous mass of plasma raged for over a day and was estimated to be larger than the Earth. Of course, it's not a tornado in the same way that we understand them here on Earth. It's obviously way bigger, way more terrifying, and way weirder.
Back in November, astronomers discovered comet Lovejoy. The discovery was somewhat muted, however, as it was predicted to be vaporized when it swung by the sun this month. Defying all expectations, the comet survived and came back around the other side of our star and has been putting on a spectacular show for sky watchers in the southern hemisphere. Just a few days ago, astronaut Dan Burbank aboard the International Space Station, snapped this picture of Lovejoy, the little piece of space debris that could.