April 24th, 2013 by Michael Ricciardi
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”
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