EYES TO THE SKY May 30 – June 11, 2017

The Sun

This image of solar active regions in the corona is a composite of 23 separate images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (designed by a team led by Leon Golub at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The images span the period of January 11, 2015 to January 21, 2016. They were taken through a filter at the wavelength of 171 angstroms, which shows gas at about 1.5 million degrees Fahrenheit. The composite reveals the zones of latitude on the Sun where active regions are most common during the active part of the solar cycle.
Image credit - NASA/SDO/AIAThis image of solar active regions in the corona is a composite of 23 separate images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (designed by a team led by Leon Golub at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The images span the period of January 11, 2015 to January 21, 2016. They were taken through a filter at the wavelength of 171 angstroms, which shows gas at about 1.5 million degrees Fahrenheit. The composite reveals the zones of latitude on the Sun where active regions are most common during the active part of the solar cycle. Image credit - NASA/SDO/AIA

I first glimpsed the image above as the cover design for astrophysicists Leon Golub and Jay Pasachoff’s latest book, The Sun, to be released around the time of the summer solstice. Lingering with the photograph, its burning radiance and swirling movement seems to convey the formative, essential light at the beginning of our planet’s history. It evokes in us the awe that all people through the centuries have experienced in response to our life-giving star. This glorious image, a tour-de-force of 21st century science, reveals solar dynamics crucial to our awareness of our planet in space as well as teaching us about the universe of stars beyond Earth.

I imagine we can tell this book by its cover! The Sun has been lauded in advance of publication. Here’s a quote from the publisher, “Glowing with a wide assortment of astonishing images, this beautifully illustrated guide will delight everyone, from those who know what a coronagraph is to those who simply like to step out on a bright day, close their eyes, and feel the Sun’s warmth upon their skin.” And reviewer Martin Rees, English Astronomer Royal offers, “This clearly written and finely illustrated book should fascinate and enlighten anyone who has wondered about the Sun-and the obvious (and less obvious) ways in which it affects us on earth.”

We in the northern hemisphere are entering the sunniest period of the year. In our locale, sunrise on June 1 is at 5:27am, sunset 8:20pm: day length 14 hours 53 minutes. Day length increases to 15 hours on June 7 and will stay at 15 hours or above through July 4. Referencing calculations from the U.S. Naval Observatory Data Services, the earliest sunrises of the year in our locale, 5:24am EDT, are from June 8 through 20. The latest sunsets, 8:31pm, are from June 22 through July 2. From June 18 through 24, day length is roughly 15 hours 6 minutes, the longest of the year.

Resources:
The Sun, Leon Golub and Jay M. Pasachoff, distributed by University of Chicago Press http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/S/bo26297673.html and Professor Pasachoff’s site https://www.solarcorona.com/.

Sunrise/sunset calculations http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php

Judy Isacoff
naturesturn.org

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