We know, you should never stare directly at the sun, but this time, NASA is actually highly recommending it...on video, at least.
June 2020 marks a full decade NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has been watching the sun non-stop from its orbit in space around earth, gathering 425 million high-resolution images of the sun as it goes. The result? Ten years and 20 million gigabytes of data. Why is this so cool? Well, reason number one: It's just super awesome to watch the time-lapse video. It's sublime, majestic and straight-up hypnotic to witness our solar system's favorite fireball swirl around like liquid lava. The second reason, and probably the more important one, is that it's led to new discoveries about how the sun influences our solar system.
We'll let the folks at NASA explain: "Compiling one photo every hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun into 61 minutes. The video shows the rise and fall in activity that occurs as part of the sun’s 11-year solar cycle and notable events, like transiting planets and eruptions." According to NASA, some of the most noteworthy moments in the time-lapse video include:
6:20 June 7, 2011: A massive prominence eruption explodes from the lower right of the sun.
12:24 June 5, 2012: The transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. (Per NASA, this won’t happen again until 2117.)
13:06 July 19, 2012: A complex loop of magnetic fields and plasma forms and lasts for hours.
13:50 Aug. 31, 2012: The most iconic eruption of this solar cycle bursts from the lower left of the sun.
20:25 Sept. 29, 2013: A prominence eruption forms a long 'canyon’ that is then covered with loops of plasma.
43:20 July 5, 2017: A large sunspot group spends two weeks crossing the face of the Sun.
57:38 Nov. 11, 2019: Mercury transits the sun for SDO. The next transit won’t be until 2032. (Mark your cals.)
If you love SDO's work, fear not. According to NASA, the observatory "will continue to watch our Sun in the years to come, providing further insights about our place in space and information to keep our astronauts and assets safe."