In August, the Sun erupted in an epic explosion: a towering arc of material blasted off the surface and into space. The images of it were incredible enough, but the folks at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center put together an astonishing high-def video of the eruption as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (or STEREO), and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):
Yowza. Set it to hi-res and make it full screen. Try not to drool.
They have more images, videos, and higher-resolution stuff on the GSFC Multimedia site. You really want to go there and take a look.
Our Sun is gorgeous, and dangerous, and amazing. These pictures and videos are more than just beautiful; they are telling us about the mechanisms and processes occurring both on the surface and inside our nearest star. Given the impact this can have on Earth, the more we know, the better.
What with all the fun excitement blasting away from the Sun the past few days, now is a good time to point you toward this excellent guide to solar flares and their classification, presented by the good folks at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:
Now I don’t have to always define what this all means every time the Sun flips its lid over the next couple of years. I like it when my tax money makes my life easier.
Tip o’ the lead apron to Scott Wiessenger.
Tonight is the first annual International Observe the Moon Night, an effort spearheaded by folks at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to get people outside and looking at the sky.
This is a pretty neat idea; the Moon is big and easy to spot, and really cool through even a small telescope. GSFC has partnered with hundreds of groups to set up observing sessions all over the planet, and there’s probably one near you.
They picked a good night: the Moon will be waxing gibbous tonight, meaning it’s halfway between first quarter and full. It’s already up before the Sun sets, so it’s easily visible even during the early evening, and you don’t have to stay up late to see it. There will still be crater shadows, too (at full Moon, the Sun shines straight down on the Moon from our view and you can’t see shadows, making craters difficult to spot).
So go outside and take a look! And even though you won’t be able to see it, remember that we have a space probe orbiting the Moon right now, just starting up its science mission. There’s still a lot to learn about our nearest cosmic neighbor.