Simma Sky: NEW Sun Pics + February Nights

What comes to mind when you think about the sun?

Big? Yellow? Bright? Blinding? Popcorn?

That last one isn’t a joke - scientists released newly acquired images of the sun that may change the way you view the sun. Check it out:

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The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope released the highest resolution pictures of the sun ever taken...and it kinda looks like corn, doesn’t it? The pictures were taken as a part of the first test of the telescope, called “first light.” The Inouye Telescope was built in Hawaii on top of the “Haleakalā” volcano, and it just so happens that “Haleakalā” means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. It’s like it was meant to be.

The sun is the closest star to earth, and earth is just far enough away that we aren’t burned and boiled away...while at the same time, just close enough that human life can still be sustained. Dennis Overbye so eloquently words the power and majesty of the star in the New York Times:

93 million miles from the nearest star — the one we call the sun — the creatures of Earth eke out a living on the edge of almost incomprehensible violence. Every second, thermonuclear reactions in the center of the Sun turn 5 million tons of hydrogen into pure energy. That energy makes its way outward, through boiling gas pocked with magnetic storms that crackle, whirl and lash space with showers of electrical particles and radiation.
- Dennis Overbye

This is just my personal take...but I don’t think we can truly comprehend the power of the sun with the human. Call me crazy, go ahead.

FEBRUARY NIGHTS

Sky viewers this month get a nice show in the evenings and an appearance by one bright planet in the evenings. Venus is the lone bright spot in the evening sky looking westward. After the sun sets, that bright thing you see is Venus. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all hang out by the moon in mid-February. Just look southeast before the sun comes up!

In mid-February, a waning crescent Moon glides among Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the predawn sky. For many viewers in North America, the Moon actually covers Mars on February 18th
In mid-February, a waning crescent Moon glides among Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the predawn sky. For many viewers in North America, the Moon actually covers Mars on February 18th (Sky & Telescope/Sky & Telescope)