We might take sunlight for granted, a distant star that provides us with beautiful days, but few have ever noticed how astounding the surface of the star itself is. In honor of the fifth anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which was sent into space on Feb. 11, 2010, NASA released a video highlighting the probe’s last 1,830 days of orbiting the sun, which it has observed on a 24-7 basis. Since its launch, the probe has taken over 200 million pictures of the Sun, sent back to Earth as wavelengths that were then converted into high-resolution images. The images were captured using a far ultraviolet frequency — a point at which the most violent magnetic activity of the Sun is able to safely be seen with colors detectable to the eyes.
Make sure your computer is set to hi-def and your volume is turned up all the way as you watch. You may want to see it several times too in order to take it all in. What you get is perhaps one of the closest experiences to being there. There’s rolling sunspots, eruptive mountains of flame, crashing filaments, solar flares, and you can even witness the Transit of Venus around the Earth, happening twice, the first instance occurring in 2012.
NASA has released the video as part of their campaign for the International Year of Light, which has been declared for 2015 – a year-long celebration of the significance of light, its inspiration to artists and poets, and the critical technology developed using light and optical technology. You can find out more about SDO and the International Year of Light from NASA’s website here.