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Watch the Sun Move

The Sun Oscillating
The solar photosphere moves in and out, throbbing with large and small scale rhythmic motions much like fudge boiling in a pot. The Sun's oscillations are far too tiny to be seen with the naked eye, but sensitive instruments on the SOHO spacecraft can detect the movements and translate them into something we can see. When you watch the following videos, look for both large and small patterns in the movements.
Sun-grazing Comets and Coronal Mass Ejections
The LASCO instrument on the SOHO spacecraft is able to image the entire Sun and its local surroundings. LASCO and its scientists have captured some impressive events, including comets diving in and possibly meeting their fate in the solar furnace, as well as great eruptions of material (Coronal Mass Ejections) from the limb of the Sun.

The video shows the Sun between December 22 and December 27, 1996 featuring a sun-grazing comet, a coronal mass ejection, and the Sun moving in front of the galactic center. The LASCO instrument covers up the Sun with a disk to avoid its glare, hence generating an artificial eclipse (you can see the disk in the video).

Scientists are also able to "subtract" the glare from the sun, so you can actually see stars in the background! Watch the movie carefully, and you will notice the Sun moving in front of the constellation Sagittarius, which includes the great cloud of stars toward the center of our Milky Way. (Look for Sagittarius in the bottom half of the image.) Near the beginning of the clip, a tiny comet will appear about half-way to the lower left of the screen, grow a short tail, and arc into or behind (we don't know which) the Sun. On the right side of the image, watch for the Coronal Mass Ejection, a huge blob of material being blasted off the Sun. This one wasn't headed for the Earth, though. (How can you tell?) The many tiny streaks in the video are cosmic rays striking and being recorded by the instrument.

There is also a close-up and compressed-in-time view of the comet and CME in the previous video (477K). This time, the comet is bold and dramatic! SOHO has discovered many comets, 10 at last count. The comet you see here has been named SOHO-6.

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