As children, we were told not to stare (or even look directly at) the sun because it could hurt our eyes. Sure, that makes sense, but it also adds to the mystery of the sun. We know it’s bright, but what exactly does it look like? Thanks to NASA, you can wonder no more, because they recently released a 10-year time lapse video of the sun. Here’s how to watch it and what you’ll see.
What’s in the video?
At this point, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has been watching the sun constantly for more than a decade; specifically since June 2, 2010. So once they hit their 10-year mark on June 1, 2020, the SDO put together this time lapse video featuring what was happening on our closest star.
Over the past decade, SDO gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the sun, or one image every 0.75 seconds. This resulted in one photo of the sun every hour. For the time lapse video, each day was condensed into one second of footage, making it 61 minutes long.
So what exactly are you seeing? According to NASA, “the video shows the rise and fall in activity that occurs as part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and notable events, like transiting planets and eruptions.” The video also features custom music, titled “Solar Observer,” composed by musician Lars Leonhard.
Was there anything the video missed? Per NASA:
While SDO has kept an unblinking eye pointed toward the Sun, there have been a few moments it missed. The dark frames in the video are caused by Earth or the Moon eclipsing SDO as they pass between the spacecraft and the Sun. A longer blackout in 2016 was caused by a temporary issue with the AIA instrument that was successfully resolved after a week. The images where the Sun is off-centre were observed when SDO was calibrating its instruments.
How to watch
NASA has made the video available on YouTube, so anyone can watch it from the comfort of their own home:
And this time, you don’t need special glasses.