Saturday picture show

Earlier this week, NASA released a greatest hits video of its Solar Dynamic Observatory, which has been watching the sun for three years. During those years, the Little Observatory That Could snapped images of the sun every 12 seconds, in 10 different wavelengths. Choosing the extreme ultraviolet wavelength, NASA put together a synopsis of those images and combined it with a lovely violin score by Martin Lass, called “A Lady’s Errand of Love.” (Note: if you prefer dub step, the Atlantic has re-scored the video.)

One fascinating fact that NASA points out is that the size of the sun remains quite stable throughout these images, which is rather a feat considering that “the SDO orbits the Earth at 6,876 miles per hour and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.” (Remember those math story problems you had in high school, about Mary leaving Chicago on a train going 55 mph and John leaving Boston two hours later on a train going 80 mph? Remember how hard those were? The people who program these satellite observatories are, like, superheroes.)

NASA also notes that

There are several noteworthy events that appear briefly in this video. They include the two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two roll maneuvers, the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus.

You can either look for these on your own, or you can go the easy route and find the exact video times here.

Or you can just enjoy the music and a fascinating glimpse into the life of our sun. And is it just my imagination that the vast majority of the flares occur at the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn?

(HD and full screen if you can.)


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to Saturday picture show

  1. Karyn says:

    Wow, that was beautiful. And the mathematics of it is mind-boggling.

    I had issues with getting this to go full screen for me. After a bit of research, one theory offered was that youtube is doing a trial of a HTML5 video player which apparently trumps the Flash player. I had to go to this link: and disable their html5 player in order to see it full screen. It worked then. Just thought I’d let anyone know who might be having the same issue.

  2. Cathy White says:

    Certainly visually stunning, although I would have liked it even more if it was not sown at such a frenetic pace, maybe a year in 3minutes or even the 3 years in 10 mins. Soundtrack was good too.

  3. Cathy White says:

    Oops , that should read ” shown”

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