EYES TO THE SKY: The Sun

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By Monday, May 29 Learning
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 °F. 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

May 29 – June 11, 2017

Mount Washington — I first glimpsed the image above as the cover design for astrophysicist Leon Golub and astronomer 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, British 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. Beginning tomorrow, and for the upcoming six weeks, there will be 15 hours or more of daylight. The earliest sunrises of the year in our locale, 5:17 a.m. EDT, are from June 8 through 22. The latest sunsets, 8:34 p.m., are from June 24 through July 1. From June 19 through 24, day length is roughly 15 hours and 16 minutes, the longest of the year.

Resource

“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/. Now available for order.


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