NASA video: Three years of the sun in three minutes

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captures three years of sun activity

Author: Lisa Ray, Managing Editor, ClickOnDetroit.com, @ClickOnLisa, lray@wdiv.com
Published On: Apr 26 2013 10:02:12 AM EDT

n the three years since it first provided images of the sun in the spring of 2010, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has had virtually unbroken coverage of the sun's rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle. This video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day.

SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 kelvins (about 1.08 million F). In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation as well as how solar activity has increased over three years.
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 Earth at 6,876 mph and Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 mph.