See Three Years Of Solar Dynamics Compressed Into Three Minutes [VIDEO]

SDO image of the sun
The sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory
Image credit: NASA

Today, NASA released onto the WWW what is sure to be one of its most popular videos of all time…Three years worth of time-lapsed video of our sun captured by the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO)…

How it was made and what to look for…

Every 12 seconds, SDO captures an image of our sun at 10 different wavelengths of light (including Infrared wave lengths which we normally never see) thanks to its Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).

What you see in this video (reposted here from Youtube user Dante Chazy’s video channel, originally uploaded by NASAexplorer) is three years of activity compiled from two images per day. The images used here are those taken in the extreme ultra violet range. At this wavelength (171 Angstroms) one can discern the sun’s 25-day rotation cycle and also an incremental increase in solar activity as the sun leaves its solar minimum phase and enters its solar maximum phase.

You may also detect a subtle increase or decrease in the apparent size of the sun due to the variation in distance between the SDO and the sun over this time period. And of course, you can see sunspots (often in pairs) emerging and major solar events like solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

Other notable events recorded in this video include two partial solar eclipses by the moon, two “roll maneuvers” (by the SDO spacecraft), the largest solar flare of this solar cycle (so far), comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus.

In case you need a time reference for these, they are listed below.

00:30;24 Partial eclipse by the moon
00:31;16 Roll maneuver
01:11;02 August 9, 2011 X6.9 Flare, currently the largest of this solar cycle
01:28;07 Comet Lovejoy, December 15, 2011
01:42;29 Roll Maneuver
01:51;07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012
02:28;13 Partial eclipse by the moon”

About the Author

Michael Ricciardi is a well-published writer of science/nature/technology articles as well as essays, poetry and short fiction. Michael has interviewed dozen of scientists from many scientific fields, including Brain Greene, Paul Steinhardt, Arthur Shapiro, and Nobel Laureate Ilya Progogine (deceased).
Michael was trained as a naturalist and taught natural science on Cape Cod, Mass. from 1986-1991. His first arts grant was for production of the environmental (video) documentary ‘The Jones River – A Natural History’, 1987-88 (Kingston, Mass.).
Michael is an award winning, internationally screened video artist. Two of his more recent short videos; ‘A Time of Water Bountiful’ and ‘My Name is HAM’ (an “imagined memoir” about the first chimp in space), and several other short videos, can be viewed on his website ( He is also the author of the ebook ‘Zombies, E.T’s, and The Super Entity – A Selection of Most Stimulating Articles’ and for Kindle: Artful Survival ~ Creative Options for Chaotic Times