Images courtesy SOHO (ESA & NASA). Animation by Windows to the Universe staff (Randy Russell).

Rotating Sun with Sunspots

This animation shows a large sunspot (officially dubbed sunspot number 720) moving across the face of the Sun as the Sun rotates. The animation spans a period of about two weeks during January 2005. The Sun rotates one full turn every 25 days at the equator, but it rotates slower at the poles, with one rotation every 36 days. Roughly 12 hours elapse per frame of this animation.

The images were captured by the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) instrument on the SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft. MDI images are captured in the red portion of the visible light spectrum, around a wavelength of 6,768 Angstroms. This part of the spectrum is quite good for observing sunspots. The view is comparable to what you would see if you could look at the Sun without damaging your eyes. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN without taking appropriate safety precautions!

(Note: If you cannot see the animation you may need to download the latest QuickTime player.)

Last modified September 6, 2005 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA