The moon moves between the observatory and the sun, giving it a view of a partial solar eclipse. Such a lunar transit happens two to three times each year. This one lasted two and a half hours, which is the longest ever recorded. (SDO/NASA via Reuters)
If you’re looking for incredible images from space, bet on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The 6,800-pound spacecraft gathers as much as 1.4 terabytes of data a day, as it takes a photo every 0.75 of a second. With all those images there are bound to be some mind-blowing gems. It was launched in 2010 with expected costs of $850 million and should last five years. So count on seeing more incredible photos.
Here’s a false-color composite image from a blast of activity originating from an active sunspot region at the center of the sun’s disk. The sun erupted with a powerful X1.2-class solar flare earlier this month. (SDO/NASA via AFP) This image shows the conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun in December 2013. (SDO/NASA via AFP) Here we see a magnetic filament of solar material erupting on the sun. The 200,000-mile long filament ripped through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, leaving behind what looks like a canyon of fire. The glowing canyon traces the channel where magnetic fields held the filament aloft before the explosion. The sun is not made of fire, but plasma: particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields. (NASA) A solar flare, left, is pictured erupting from the sun. (NASA via Reuters)