The sun in 2020


Originally published by ESA on January 7, 2021

These 366 images of the sun were made by ESA’s Proba-2 satellite in 2020. This satellite is continuously monitoring the changing activity of the sun. One image was selected to represent each day of the year (including leap day, February 29, 2020).

The images were taken by the satellite’s SWAP camera, which works at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to capture the sun’s turbulent, hot atmosphere (the corona) at temperatures of about a million degrees Celsius (1,800,000 degrees F).

In two images – June 21 and December 14 – a partial solar eclipse is visible from Proba-2’s point-of-view.

Read more: Why no eclipse at every new moon?

EarthSky’s lunar calendar shows the moon phase for every day in 2021. Stock is running low. Order yours before they’re gone!

2020 marked the start of a new solar activity cycle, cycle 25. Most cycles last about 11 years on average. At the beginning of 2020 the sun still showed low levels of activity, but at the end of the year it already showed signs of waking up.

In the images of November and December, multiple active regions are visible. These regions represent areas of intense magnetic activity that can produce some of the most dramatic space weather events, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. One of these powerful ejections was captured by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on November 29.

366 small squares each with a picture of the sun, and 12 red squares with month names.
The sun in 2020. Image via ESA/ Royal Observatory of Belgium.

2020 was an important year for solar research, with the launch of ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission on February 10. One of the key questions for ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission is to understand what drives the 11-year solar cycle. With its suite of 10 state-of-the-art instruments, Solar Orbiter will perform close-up observations of the sun, including from high latitudes, providing the first images of the uncharted polar regions of the sun, and will investigate the sun-Earth connection. The mission will provide insight into how our parent star works and how we can better predict periods of stormy space weather.

Bottom line: An entire year of sun images, an image a day for 2020, taken by ESA’s Proba-2 satellite and made into a video.

January 8, 2021

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