Solar Dynamics Observatory: Three years in three minutes

What it says on the tin.  Three years after First Light, Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has released three stunning minutes of images compiled during its virtually unbroken coverage of the sun’s rise toward solar maximum.  Enjoy!  [Video from NasaExplorer on YouTube. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO]

As they note in the associated text

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits the Earth at 6,876 miles per hour and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Such stability is crucial for scientists, who use SDO to learn more about our closest star. These images have regularly caught solar flares and coronal mass ejections in the act, types of space weather that can send radiation and solar material toward Earth and interfere with satellites in space. SDO’s glimpses into the violent dance on the sun help scientists understand what causes these giant explosions – with the hopes of some day improving our ability to predict this space weather.

And they helpfully identify some of the “Noteworthy events that appear briefly in the main sequence of this video”

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 [added link]

01:42;29 Roll Maneuver

01:51;07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012

02:28;13 Partial eclipse by the moon

And it’ll still be there when Comet ISON grazes past…


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