This is Your Brain On Awesome Thoughts on the world from a student of the mind

9Feb/11

What does it take to see the entire Sun?

Well, after thousands of years of speculating, dreaming, and fearing that giant yellow blob in the sky, we are finally able to visualize the sun in its entirety.

Certainly, our knowledge of the sun has grown exponentially over the past century or so, moving from a celestial object of the gods to the giant burning atom smasher that we know and love today.  However, this marks a new step towards being able to use the activity of the sun to make all kinds of predictions about our galaxy.

Of importance for this video is the ability to predict aberrant electromagnetic activity that occurs as a result of the sun's shifting surface.  Generally called "solar flares", these  giant leaping arcs of energy and power have been known to disrupt GPS signals, communication, and other kinds of electronics that rely on wireless fields.

These flares do not completely come out of the blue, we can often anticipate one by looking at activity on the sun's surface.  However, until now, we'd only been able to look at a fraction of the total surface of the sun, meaning that activity on the "dark side of the sun" (kind of a misnomer, I know) was unknown.

Now, by having two circling satellites at opposite ends of our friendly fireball, we can see what's going on all the time, allowing us to more accurately predict solar activity.  Check out the video for more details and pretty pictures!

via NASA

ps, for those who might have noticed a less-frequent number of posts lately, I've been running all over the place getting interviews finished...I promise to take up more slack once things settle down!

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