The sun is yours … on a computer

ESA JHelioviewer Team

A prominence suspended above the solar surface is seen in this screenshot from the program JHelioviewer developed by the European Space Agency. The solar image was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Sun seekers of the scientific sort need to travel only as far as their computer to get their fill, thanks to new visualization software that puts the entire library of images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory at their fingertips.

The Java-based JHelioviewer allows users to make movies of the sun, add color to the images as they wish. and then process the movies in real time. The data could be used, for example, to make a movie of a mega-filament eruption such as the one experienced earlier this month, or a time-lapse movie of solar storms.

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The program gives users access to more than a million images from SOHO, and new images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are being added daily. All told, more than 15 years worth of imagery is available.

“We wanted to make it easy to view solar images from different observatories and instruments, and to make it easy to make movies,” Daniel Mueller, deputy project scientist on SOHO at the European Space Agency, said in a news release. “Before, it took hours to combine images from different telescopes to make a movie of the sun for a given period. With JHelioviewer, everyone can do this in minutes.”

JHelioviewer can be downloaded here. A Web-based image browser,, complements the desktop software.

Sun-seekers of another sort can browse these images and daydream about their next beach vacation.

More stories about SOHO and SDO:

* Sun-watching probe turns an amazing 10 * Comet eaten by the sun as spacecraft watches * Solar tsunamis move at astronomical speed * Huge solar storm could hit Earth again * Spectacular sights come from solar probe * Sun-watching probe launched on second try * Magnetic loops shown erupting from the sun

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John Roach is a contributing writer for Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the “like” button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following’s science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).


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