Sun

This is the Sun as most of us know it...A featureless, golden disk...

The bringer of day...The fiery torch of sunset...

The source of light and life...

The ultimate "reason for the seasons", whose passage across the sky is the very symbol of regularity.

The Sun was Ra to the Egyptians... A god to societies East and West... The ruler of the heavens.

...An all-seeing eye under whose gaze time and human societies pass like eddies in a stream...

But this is the Sun known to modern science.

The Sun as we now know it is anything but featureless. It's a place of awesome change.

Vast flares unleash colossal energies...

Telescopes show us visible layers boiling in ceaseless turmoil...

Spacecraft reveal shimmering magnetic fields...

Now we can track its behavior throughout its 11-year sunspot cycle.

Today we know our Sun is a magnetic, variable star, and that even the "quiet" Sun is very active.


Barbara Thompson
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Once in a while, you sit back and you realize how enormous the Sun is, and that it's an actual star. You're not looking at some little small object, like it looks like on the screen. This is a whole star.