We are in an age where our recorded observations of the solar system are giving way to some fascinating ways to analyze the place we call home.
Currently, NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts are over 18 billion and 15 billion kilometers from earth respectively. They are out in the Heliosheath: an area where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas. It is completely uncharted territory and it is the first time we are recording what it is like beyond our own solar wind, out in the wild of space.
Watch the video below:
Meanwhile, back on Earth, we continue to analyze the place we call home from our telescopes. This week, NASA released a really beautiful compilation of the source of life: our sun. The three-minute video compiles three years of watching the sun. The video was made using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory which was able to capture a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in ten different wavelengths.
Watching the video is a really peaceful reflection on the reason we are all here.
The video brings a much needed moment of perspective that shows nothing but the revolving sun in the middle of the screen. It is a lonely image that serves as a reminder of the insignificant place we actually inhabit in our universe. For everything that happens to us here on Earth, for all the things that humans worry about and everything humans put each other through, for all the time we spend on machines or keeping up appearances or disengaging ourselves from the present, there is that one image of the sun.
An image that does nothing but spin.
It is a reminder that we are a very small product in the scheme of much larger mechanisms. Without the sun, a simple spinning ball of energy, we would be nothing. As humans, it is something we have to realize every now and again.
Here is a bit about what you can see on the video from NASA:
There are several noteworthy events that appear briefly in this video. They include the two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two roll maneuvers [by the observatory, as it changes position], the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. The specific time for each event is listed below, but a sharp-eyed observer may see some while the video is playing.
— 00:30:24 Partial eclipse by the moon
— 00:31:16 Roll maneuver
— 01:11:02 August 9, 2011 X6.9 Flare, currently the largest of this solar cycle
— 01:28:07 Comet Lovejoy, December 15, 2011
— 01:42:29 Roll Maneuver
— 01:51:07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012
— 02:28:13 Partial eclipse by the moon
Three minutes is a small price to pay for perspective.