Calm Sun, Vigorous Sun — Side-by-Side

By Tom Yulsman | June 25, 2013 11:29 am

Side-by-side videos from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory comparing solar activity in 2010 and 2013. This is a screenshot, so please click on the image to watch the videos. (Video: NASA SDO)

Since bottoming out in 2009 as part of an 11-year cycle, activity on the sun has been heading for a peak. These side-by-side videos from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show just what a difference a couple of years can make.

This is a screenshot, so please click on the image to watch the videos, which run simultaneously in the same frame. The video on the left is from October, 2010, when activity was very low; the one on the right is from just last month. Both are seen in extreme ultraviolet light, and both show solar activity for one month.

Last month, the sun’s surface was animated by many bright areas, with loops arcing above them. By comparison, not much was going on back in 2010.

The SDO Facebook page features regular updates on solar activity, sometimes before they appear on the regular NASA SDO website. I recommend it highly.

Lastly, here’s a graph tracking the progress of the sun’s 11-year cycle from the Space Weather Prediction Center:

As the graph shows, we’re getting close to the time predicted for the peak in solar activity. It should come by the end of this year, or early next.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Sun, Top Posts


ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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