Since the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in 2010, humans have had an unprecedented close-up view of the Sun, and the images captured are breathtaking, revealing a red-glowing Sun ablaze with flares, filaments and eruptions. The short video, SUN, by Michael König, is an edited time lapse sequence of SDO images obtained between the years 2011 and 2015. It will change forever how you see the Sun.
Editor’s Note: Solar Orbiter, an European Space Agency (ESA)-led mission with strong NASA participation, is due to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 23:03 EST. Over the course of Solar Orbiter’s mission, it’s expected to provide unprecedented views and insight into how the Sun works as well as investigate the Sun-Earth connection for a better understanding of stormy space weather. For more information about the mission and launch (including live streaming) go to ESA – Solar Orbiter → Here
There are billions of stars like our Sun scattered throughout the Milky Way galaxy, and many are bigger and brighter. What makes the Sun uniquely superior (at least from the human perspective) is that it has made life on Earth possible, providing warmth and energy and holding the solar system together with its gravitational pull.
Just like all the other stars, the Sun is a big ball of gases. It has a radius of 432,168.6 miles/695,508 kilometers (1.3 million Earths would fill the Sun’s volume), with a surface (photosphere) temperature of about 10,000°F (5,500°C) [carbon such as diamonds and graphite will boil at that temperature]. Above the photosphere is the chromosphere and the corona, where it is even hotter (3.5million°F/2million°C) and features such as flares and sun spots appear.
The Sun will one day run out of energy and die as all stars eventually do, first swelling to a size large enough to engulf Mercury, Venus and perhaps Earth as well before collapsing and shrinking down to its burned-out core (becoming a ‘white dwarf’). Scientists have predicted the Sun has approximately 6.5 billion years remaining in its lifecycle. So, there’s still some time to enjoy life under the Sol Invictus before packing your bags and taking off to a new home planet.
“So we here on Earth, we actually live in the atmosphere of the Sun.” —- Dr. Nicky Fox
In the November 15, 2017 NASA Gravity Assist podcast, Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science at NASA, is joined by Dr. Nicky Fox from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, for a conversation about the Sun — how hot is it, what are solar flares, and how does space weather affect us here on Earth?– and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe—a mission to “touch the Sun”. Just click/tap the play button ▶️ to listen to the audio recording.
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
August 21, 2017
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, causing the Sun to be totally or partially obscured for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon blocks all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness within a narrow path across the Earth’s surface (a partial solar eclipse appears in wider area alongside the path of the total eclipse).
It was the first total solar eclipse to move across the entire US since 1918, and eclipse watchers were able to take in the ‘total’ experience on August 21, 2017 as it entered the US from Oregon (crossing between Lincoln City and Newport), and exited in South Carolina between Georgetown and Charleston. For information and 2017 total solar eclipse resources, go to ⇒ NASA Total Solar Eclipse 2017
⇒ Watch The US National Park Service in collaboration with NASA, the National Institute of Aerospace, and Southwest Community College, hosted a special event and live broadcast of the 2017 eclipse as it passed over Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you missed the live stream broadcast or just want to see it all again, click/tap the “Watch Again” button or select from the posts on the video players below ↓
⇒ Another viewing option is provided by The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sol Invictus (“Invincible” or “Unconquered” Sun) From 274 AD, Sol Invictus was the primary deity of the later Roman Empire and favored by Roman emperors, Aurelian (270-275 AD) until Constantine the Great (306-337 AD), Wikipedia: Sol Invictus
Sun: In Depth, Solar System Exploration, NASA website
Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Launched on February 11, 2010 on a mission for NASA’s “Living with a Star” Program, the SDO is a spacecraft containing measuring and imaging equipment that orbits the Earth at an altitude of 22,238 miles (35,789 kilometers), allowing almost continuous observation and study of the Sun.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe successfully launched on August 12, 2018 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere with a never-before mission to “touch the Sun”.
Discoveries of Cassini’s exploration of Saturn are a sight to see!
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Feature image of solar prominence is courtesy of NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Public Domain