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WATCH: The Sun Like You've Never Seen It

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which keeps a 24/7 vigil on the sun, just released this spectacular video composite to mark five years since the spacecraft was launched.

As Astronomer Phil Plait writes at Slate: "There's so much to take in there. Rolling sunspots, eruptive prominences, collapsing filaments, solar flares, the Transit of Venus (twice!)"

The SDO was being designed and built while Plait was working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The astronomer says he remembers discussing with colleagues how much data would be sent back to Earth and how much would be seen by the probe.

"I had no idea," he writes (emphasis his). "SDO is far more than I imagined, and has revealed our active and complex star far better than anything before it."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.