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The Sciences

Calm Sun, Vigorous Sun — Side-by-Side

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Side-by-side videos from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory comparing solar activity in 2010 and 2013. This is a screenshot, so please click on the image to watch the videos. (Video: NASA SDO) Since bottoming out in 2009 as part of an 11-year cycle, activity on the sun has been heading for a peak. These side-by-side videos from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show just what a difference a couple of years can make. This is a screenshot, so please click on the image to watch the videos, which run simultaneously in the same frame. The video on the left is from October, 2010, when activity was very low; the one on the right is from just last month. Both are seen in extreme ultraviolet light, and both show solar activity for one month. Last month, the sun's surface was animated by many bright areas, with loops arcing above them. By comparison, not much was going on back in 2010. The SDO Facebook page features regular updates on solar activity, sometimes before they appear on the regular NASA SDO website. I recommend it highly. Lastly, here's a graph tracking the progress of the sun's 11-year cycle from the Space Weather Prediction Center:

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Graph: Space Weather Prediction Center As the graph shows, we're getting close to the time predicted for the peak in solar activity. It should come by the end of this year, or early next.

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