Night Sky

By Collin O’Mara-Green

Solar activity returns

While the Sun appears as a round glowing sphere in the sky, its glare masks lots of activity. The Sun, like all stars, is a ball of super-hot gases undergoing nuclear fusion. Hydrogen in a star’s core is subjected to intense heat and pressure resulting in the formation of helium and other heavier elements, including our own Sierra County gold from some other long ago star’s fusion.

In addition, the sun is rotating on its own axis every 27 days or so which is quite fast considering you could fit 1.3 million Earths inside. This rotation at the Sun’s equator is faster than at its poles, due to its composition of plasma (super-hot gas). The sun’s magnetic field is bent and warped by this difference in speeds.

Every 11 years or so, the sun’s magnetic field flips, resulting in increased solar activity like sunspots and solar flares. We are now entering a new period of solar activity, so look for more images from astrophotographers of the sun soon.

Keep Looking Up!

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