Mysteries of the sun ... explained in video

April 9, 2012 By Karen C. Fox
Anatomy of the Sun -- one of the illustrations from the Mysteries of the Sun book. Credit: NASA/Jenny Mottar

NASA has just released five new videos called "Mysteries of the Sun". The videos describe the science of the sun and its effects on the solar system and Earth. Scientists study the sun not only to better understand the orb that influences life, but also to study how it sends solar material out into space, filling up the bubble that defines the farthest reaches of the solar system. The sun can also impact Earth's technology: solar storms can affect our communications satellites and cause surges in power lines. These movies cover the breadth of solar, heliospheric, and geospace science, a field known as heliophysics.

With beautiful graphics and well-explained narration, the series has won awards even before its public release, including the 2011 Platinum 3rd Annual Pixie in the category of Motion Graphics, receiving compliments from the judges such as "breath-taking animation" and "Some of the best in the competition."

"NASA constantly creates science products to reach out to the public," said Ruth Netting, Manager, Communications and for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. "Informing the public is not the only reason -- we also want to get people involved in science."

The five movies, available online at and on DVD, cover five areas of heliophysics: Space Weather, Solar Variability, the Heliosphere, Earth's magnetosphere, and Earth's upper atmosphere.

The five videos are:

Space Weather

This video describes the direct and dramatic effects that eruptions on the sun can cause at Earth. Earth's magnetic fields change shape and strength in response to an eruption on the sun, and these changes in turn can damage space born technology and disrupt communications traveling through space. They also cause aurora.

Solar Variability

Rotations of the material deep inside the sun cause constantly shifting magnetic field lines. This variability drives the solar cycle, during which the north and south magnetic poles reverse position approximately every 11 years.

The Heliosphere

The solar wind streams out from the sun until it collides with material from the rest of space. This entire bubble defined by the solar wind is called the heliosphere and scientists study the very boundaries to better understand our place in space.

Earth's Magnetosphere

Earth is enveloped in a protective magnetic envelope called the magnetosphere. This can change shape in response to the sun's effects, causing various types of space weather at Earth.

Earth's Upper Atmosphere

Certain layers, high up in the atmosphere also respond to incoming energy from the sun. These layers contain charged particles and so naturally respond to an influx of magnetic energy. Understanding such variability is crucial since it can, in turn, degrade radio communication as well as satellite orbits.

In addition to the movies, there is a guidebook with full-color images, diagrams, and charts that will make the science of heliophysics clear for all readers. The topics covered include the anatomy of the Sun, the solar cycle, , and solar variability, as well as the Sun’s effects on space weather and the Earth’s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere. One of the ways the Sun visibly influences events on Earth is the Aurora. The guide also provides an explanation of the connection between this phenomena and the .

Additional awards are as follows:

• Telly Award: 2012 Silver Award (highest honor): Non-Broadcast Productions - Use of Animation
• Telly Award: 2012 Bronze Award: Non-Broadcast Productions – Education

For Space Weather video:

• 2010 Gold 17th Annual Award of Excellence Communicator Award: Education
• 2010 Silver 17th Annual Award of Distinction Communicator Award: Use of Animation
• 2011 Silver TIVA-DC Peer Award for the category: Motion Graphics: 2D/3D Animation Over $25,000
• 2011 Bronze 32nd Annual Telly Award Film/Video: Education

For Solar Variability video:

• 2010 Gold 17th Annual Award of Excellence Communicator Award: Education
• 2010 Silver 17th Annual Award of Distinction Communicator Award Use of Animation
• 2011 Silver TIVA-DC Peer Award for the category: Motion Graphics: 2D/3D Animation Over $25,000
• 2011 Bronze 32nd Annual Telly Award Film/Video: Use of Animation

For Heliosphere video:

• 2011 Bronze TIVA-DC Peer Award for the category: Motion Graphics: 2D/3D Animation Over $25,000

Explore further: ESA To Collaborate with NASA on Solar Science Mission

More information: The five movies are available online at .

Related Stories

ESA To Collaborate with NASA on Solar Science Mission

October 6, 2011

On October 4, 2011, the European Space Agency announced it's two next science missions, including Solar Orbiter, a spacecraft geared to study the powerful influence of the sun. Solar Orbiter will be an ESA-led mission, with ...

The Sun Loses its Spots

July 24, 2007

While sidewalks crackle in the summer heat, NASA scientists are keeping a close eye on the sun. It is almost spotless, a sign that the Sun may have reached solar minimum. Scientists are now watching for the first spot of ...

Solar storm heading our way

August 4, 2011

Early yesterday, (Aug 3, 2011) two active regions on the Sun, sunspot 1261 and 1263 unleashed solar flares, which was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The video shows an M6 class flare from 1261 in a couple ...

Halloween Storms of 2003 Still the Scariest

October 29, 2008

( -- By the eerie light of a Halloween moon, while a chilly wind blows autumn-dry leaves askitter on bare and fingered branches, scary things can happen. Blood-sucking bats, creepy-crawly spiders, and a bevy of ...

A 360 degree view of an X-class flare and a CME

November 8, 2011

( -- The sun sent out two different kinds of solar activity last night in different directions. One was an X 1.9 class flare that burst out from an active region on the sun, numbered AR1339, which just rounded ...

Storms from the sun

March 9, 2012

( -- Space weather starts at the sun. It begins with an eruption such as a huge burst of light and radiation called a solar flare or a gigantic cloud of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME). But ...

Recommended for you

Juno probes the depths of Jupiter's great red spot

December 12, 2017

Data collected by NASA's Juno spacecraft during its first pass over Jupiter's Great Red Spot in July 2017 indicate that this iconic feature penetrates well below the clouds. Other revelations from the mission include that ...

Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy

December 12, 2017

Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fuelling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.

Unravelling the mysteries of extragalactic jets

December 11, 2017

University of Leeds researchers have mathematically examined plasma jets from supermassive black holes to determine why certain types of jets disintegrate into huge plumes.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 09, 2012
What if all this speculation about the interior of the sun is entirely wrong? Then NASA is teaching ignorance and not knowledge. This all needs to clearly be presented as THEORY and not fact. No one really knows what is going on inside the sun..we can only speculate and make educated guesses. Until there is a way to actually probe the inside of the sun it is up speculation. NOT FACT. How does this fit with a solar surface at 6000 K and a chronosphere around the sun at 1m K? Magic NASA Dust?
3 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2012
I'm willing to watch the videos and look at the ancillary material before actually passing judgment, but I am going to at least make a prediction before doing so...

I predict that rather than "Mysteries of the sun ... explained in video", it will turn out that a better title would have been "Standard Model of the Sun, Rehashed Yet Again", subtitled "speculation given the weight of fact, contrary evidence ignored".

I suspect this is nothing but a propaganda piece for the theoretical status quo.

I would love to be wrong, and as I said, I'll actually watch the videos before critiquing the work. I'm just making that prediction based on experience.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.