NASA’s 10-Year Time-Lapse of The Sun is Amazing

Copernicus would be picking his jaw up from the floor.

Daniel Fincher
2 min readJun 26, 2020


This month, June 2020, marks the 10-Year Anniversary of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s (virtually) uninterrupted observation of our sun’s activity.

They have condensed the entire ten years into a one-hour video and also uploaded a more consumable three year time-lapse in a 3:30 video.

Nasa’s SDO records an image of the Sun every 0.75 seconds. Each instrument uses different technology to provide a different perspective — for example, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) device captures images in 10 different wavelengths of light, every 12 seconds.

This video showcases a selection of photos taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, a deeply ultraviolet wavelength that helps us see the Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer — the corona.

Compiling a photo an hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun’s dynamic life into a brief 61 minutes.

The video almost entirely shows the Sun’s entire11-year solar cycle and includes several notable events, such as transiting planets and solar eruptions.

The music is a custom composition, titled “Solar Observer,” and was composed by musician Lars Leonhard.

While the SDO’s work has gone on without much interruption, there have been a few brief moments that didn’t make it into the record.

The dark frames you’ll notice in the video are created when the Earth or the Moon eclipse the SDO as they pass between the spacecraft and the Sun.

A longer 2016 blackout was the result of a temporary technical issue with the AIA instrument and was successfully resolved after a week.

Also, if you notice images where the Sun is off-center, these were recorded when SDO was calibrating its instrumentation.

Altogether, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has collected more than 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun. This amounts to over 20 million gigabytes of data accumulating over the past 10 years.

This is an incredible achievement in our continued study of the universe around us. We are such a small part of it all, I sometimes wonder why it isn’t more important to humanity to focus on a better understanding of it.

At any rate, I just wanted to share this thing that might have been lost amidst the craziness of the moment.

As always — thanks for reading!



Daniel Fincher

Freelance Writer, Storyteller, and Poet — Founder of Artistic Autism and Five-Minute Fiction