Here Comes the Sun—10 Years of It, in One Hour

NASA releases hypnotizing film showing a decade of our resident star
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2020 8:41 AM CDT

You're not supposed to stare at the sun, but a new NASA film lets you safely do so for an entire hour. Per the Guardian, the space agency has released a decade's worth of "mesmerizing" footage of our resident star, taken from February 2010 all the way up to last month by a trio of instruments on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Per NASA, the SDO stitched together 425 million high-res images into a 61-minute video, set to a soothing score by German musician Lars Leonhard, that depicts a full solar cycle—complete with developing sunspots, eruptions, and planets passing by. The SDO snapped a photo of the sun every 0.75 seconds, on average, with one of the instruments capturing a picture "every 12 seconds at 10 different wavelengths of light."

As for some parts of the video that seem amiss: NASA explains that at points when the sun seems off-center, the SDO instruments were recalibrating, while occasional dark frames (such as that seen at 53:29 in the video) were from the Earth or moon obscuring the light as they passed between the spacecraft and the sun. A slightly longer blackout in early August 2016 took place when there was a problem with one of the instruments, which was taken care of after about a week. Newsweek notes that the video comes out right before the European Space Agency releases the closest pictures of the sun ever taken, shot from the NASA-ESA Solar Orbiter, which got as close as 48 million miles away from the sun's surface. Those images are due out in mid-July. The sun will remain under the SDO's gaze until 2030. (Read more NASA stories.)

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