Detail of the sun (Screen grab via Youtube)

Detail of the sun (screengrab via YouTube)

As we all know from grade school, the sun is so bright that even from way down here on Earth, it can blind you if you look at it too long. But now, thanks to NASA, you can marvel at it as long as you like.

The space agency released an awe-inspiring, 30-minute video earlier this week that shows earth’s nearest star in striking clarity. It reveals a moody, fiery sphere continuously erupting in spectacular light storms, clouds of hot gas and plasma bursting across its surface. The footage was meticulously stitched together from photographs taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which, since 2010, has been orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth snapping ultra HD photos of the sun every 12 seconds. It’s able to capture the sun in its entirety because it photographs 10 different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. These represent different ranges of temperature and were all given false colors so that scientists would be able to distinguish between them.

Each minute of footage took about 10 hours to create, meaning the video represents about 300 hours worth of meticulous work. But it was well worth it, revealing the surface of the sun in a way that’s never been seen it before. NASA writes that the video “presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.”

The organization has dubbed the video “thermonuclear art.” Imagine what an artist like Cezanne, who sought to reproduce sunlight through color in his paintings, would have made of it.

YouTube video

Laura C. Mallonee is a Brooklyn-based writer. She holds an M.A. in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU and a B.F.A. in painting from Missouri State University. She enjoys exploring new cities and...

4 replies on “Here Comes the Sun in NASA’s New Mind-Blowing Footage”

  1. My father would have loved this! He was an astro-geophysicist with a specialization in the solar corona! Unfortunately, he passed away in the early 1990’s. 🙁

    1. I have some great photos he took of the solar corona from the solar telescope at Haleakala on Maui around 1970.

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