November 6, 2015

How Big is the Sun?

The Sun is really really big! It is difficult to get a true feel for how big it is because nothing in our daily life comes even close. But we can use objects that we are familiar with to provide […]
October 28, 2015
Massive Solar Flare

X17 Solar Flare and Solar Storm of October 28, 2003

On this day in 2003 (October 28), the Sun unleashed one of the largest and most geoeffective solar storms of the modern age (and consequently, one of the most studied). The eruption was part of what became known as the […]
October 5, 2015

Do solar flares cause earthquakes?

We have been getting a number of questions and comments lately regarding the possible relationship between solar activity and geological activity, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, so I have decided to look into the matter in more detail. First let […]
August 2, 2015
Layers of the Sun

Layers of the Sun

The Sun, as shown by the illustration to the left, can be divided into six layers. From the center out, the layers of the Sun are as follows: the solar interior composed of the core (which occupies the innermost quarter […]
July 8, 2015

The Space Shuttle’s Importance to Solar Physics

  With the approaching final launch (scheduled July 8, 2011) of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the end to the 30 plus year Space Shuttle program it is a good time to take a brief fond farewell look at the […]
July 6, 2015

Happy Aphelion 2015!

Earth reached its farthest point from the sun July 6 at 3:41 p.m. EDT or July 6 at 19:41 in Universal Time (UT). This is called aphelion. The distance from the Sun’s center to Earth’s center will be 152,093,481 kilometers or 94,506,507 miles. The […]
June 21, 2015

Happy June Solstice 2015

The June solstice for 2015 begins on June 21st at 16:39 UT (12:39 pm EDT.) It is called the summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice exactly? There are two solstices in […]
April 3, 2015
Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014 from

Shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the Century – April 4, 2015

Don’t blink or you’ll miss the shortest lunar eclipse of the century! What is happening? During the early morning hours of April 4, the full moon will pass through Earth’s dark or inner shadow (umbra) creating a total lunar eclipse. Portions […]
March 19, 2015

March 20, 2015 Supermoon Solar Eclipse

On March 20, 2015 a supermoon total solar eclipse occurs in the Faroe Islands and Svalbard (Norway), and a partial solar eclipse in Europe, northern and eastern Asia and northern and western Africa. The eclipse starts at 07:41 UT and ends […]
March 2, 2015

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission: Studying magnetic fields around the Earth

By looking close to home, NASA’s newest mission with provide a window to the universe. Countdown to MMS Launch The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission was created to study how magnetic fields around Earth interact with activity from the sun. The […]
February 11, 2015

5 Years of SDO

Happy Birthday SDO! 5 years with much more to come! The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) celebrates its 5th anniversary since it launched on February 11, 2010. This time-lapse video captures one frame every 8 hours starting when data became available […]
January 5, 2015

Welcome to Perihelion 2015!

Earth reached its closest point from the sun, January 4, at 1:36am EDT or January 4 at 6:36am in Universal Time (UT). This is called perihelion. The point of closest approach is called perihelion. These terms are specific to a […]