Good day, sunshine! Cameras at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a cheerful-looking image of the sun last week, with eyes and a grinning mouth suggested by the shapes of dark patches known as “coronal holes” — or spots where fast solar wind gushes out into space. The sighting prompted a range of responses, from lighthearted comparisons to the Raisin Bran cereal mascot, Sunny, which portrays the sun as a generally upbeat entity, to serious fears of geomagnetic storms that could be caused by the phenomenon.
And everyone in between made memes, because we can all agree that an actual photo of the sun looking exactly like the “Stay-Puft” Marshmallow Man lends itself perfectly to the Internet’s refined sense of humor.
While some took the occasion of Halloween weekend to prompt a spooky twist on the situation, others found 13 Reasons Why it was a great day for solar memes:
The sun is a timeless symbol, and in it, we see our own life force. Or, you know, snacks.
The solar event also evoked late-1990s-early-2000s nostalgia, reminding some of that one perpetually smiling baby sun from Teletubbies.
Other people had a less intuitive though admittedly creative take on the situation.
I would hazard a guess that the above Twitter user is, in fact, the only one who sees this connection. And same goes for this well-meaning but really far-fetched analogy to an otter.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy another day under the sun — except for Brian Keating, a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego, who explained that all might not be roses and sunshine.
“More so than a smiley face, its eyes are like gleaming laser beams sending particles that can cause severe disruptions to the atmosphere on Earth,” Keating told the Washington Post, adding that a severe solar storm could have consequences including electrical grid damage and power outages.
Cool, so we should actually proceed with our day carrying the sure knowledge that the sun smiles happily upon us even as it seeks to destroy life as we know it. In other words, it is exactly like one of these memes, more so than any other.