NASA Celebrates Fifth Year of the Solar Dynamics Observatory with a Stunning Solar Timelapse

Our daily view of the sun is generally that of a large glowing orb—something that shines in our sky, steadfast and predictable. This timelapse from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, however, shows us an entirely different view of our great stellar host—one whose surface is always in motion. Part lightning storm, part volcanic eruption, and part northern light show, NASA’s stunning synopsis of solar highlights gives a glimpse at how alive and fluid our sun truly is:

Launched on February 11, 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been taking pictures of the entire sun—more than one a second—for over five years. The cameras record the data in different wavelengths, allowing us to see how various solar material moves in and out of the sun’s corona (atmosphere). While this provides an unending supply of information for heliophysicists studying the sun’s variability and its effects upon the earth, it also affords us an amazing light show.

5 year timelapse of the sun

And while the SDO’s mission is to improve “our understanding of how and why the Sun varies, how the Earth and Solar System respond, and how the variability and response affects humanity in Space and on Earth,” the fringe benefits include stunning eye candy, revealing our sun to be an orb of immense beauty and action.

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