Largest solar flare since 2017 has scientists excited that maybe the Sun is entering a new, active cycle.

The Sun has been really quiet lately. In fact, since late in 2017, the Sun's activity seems to have slowed down. That changed this week when scientists spotted the largest solar flare since October 2017. A solar flare is a burst of radiation coming from sunspots (relatively cool patches on the surface of the Sun). The solar flare occurred on May 29 and was rated a M-class. Flares are rated as A, B, C, M, or X. An M-class flare is a medium sized flare and is not big enough to cause problems such as radio interference. The flare has scientists excited that maybe the Sun is moving back to a more active phase of its normal 11-year cycle. The Sun's cycles can range from 9 to

NASA launches fastest manmade object in history – Parker Solar Probe will travel more than 400,000 miles per hour and “touch” the Sun!

It hasn’t made it into the popular news channels much which is puzzling (and sad) because the device, and its mission, is so very, very cool. On August 12, 2018, NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft with a mission to examine the Sun’s corona. It’s no small feat and will require the probe maintain speeds of 430,000 miles per hour as it whirls around the sun. The Polar Solar Probe is an attempt to unravel some of the mystery around the Sun’s corona, that layer of hot plasma that floats millions of miles around the sun. The corona is the source of the Sun’s solar wind and is what causes the beautifully, colorful aurorae in the Earth’s magnetosphere. Parker's mission is not an

Sun gets in Halloween spirit – makes spooky jack-o’lantern face for all its fans

The Sun showed its Halloween spirit this week by putting on its best spooky jack-o’lantern face.  The incredible image above was captured by NASA on October 8, 2014 and shows active regions on the sun combined to create the spooky image.  The sun's active regions, a storm of magnetic fields, appear brighter because they are emitting more light and energy.  This image above blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 Angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance. Sources: NASA, ABC News

Cool science pictures that make you go “huh?”

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  In these interesting science pictures, they are worth a single word – “huh?”.  Check out the cool science pictures below.  If they don’t cause you to scratch your head in wonder, they will at least put things in perspective. The sun in a different light This picture of the sun was taken using a different wavelength filter giving us an entirely different perspective.   How big is the moon? The surface area of the moon is 37.9 million square kilometers.  How big is that?  Here’s a true-scale image of the United States superimposed over the moon.   How do astronauts eat in space? Below is a food tray used aboard the Space Shuttle.  Notice the velcro used to hold the food in

Our wonderful Sun – the brightest star in the sky!

[sc:commonscripts] Our Sun is an ordinary star although it is quite large compared to other stars. In terms of “mass”, most stars have less than half the mass of our Sun. You could fit 109 Earths across the Sun. The Romans called the Sun “sol” (as in SOlar). The Sun is about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium. The Sun converts hydrogen to helium at its core. The Sun is not a solid body like Earth. This accounts for why the outer shell of the Sun rotates around its core. In this way, it sort of behaves like planets that are made of gas. At its poles, it rotates once about every 36 days while at the equator (or mid-line) it rotates about every 25