Incredible time-lapse photo captures sun during 8-year sunspot peak

Time-lapse image of two major sunspot clusters moving across the Sun’s surface between December 2 and December 27, 2022, taken by Şenol Şanlı. (Image credit: Senol Shanli)

A stunning new time-lapse photo shows two bands of shape-shifting sunspots moving across the Sun’s surface as our host star rotates at the center of the Solar System. When the mesmerizing picture was taken, the total number of sunspots was at its highest in eight years, suggesting solar activity is about to climb another notch.

right time (opens in new tab)An amateur astrophotographer based in Bursa, Turkey created the new image using data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Photo (opens in new tab), which Şanlı shared on his Instagram account on January 3, is a composite of different snaps taken between December 2 and December 27, 2022. Two bands of clusters developed in the image belong to a pair of particularly large sunspot clusters: A3176, located north of the Sun’s equator; and A3153, both in the Sun’s southern hemisphere, moved east to west (right to left in the image). Şanlı digitally removed other sunspots visible on the Sun’s surface from this period, allowing observers to track subtle changes in sunspot groups over time.

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Close-up shot of a developing sunspot. (Image credit: Senol Shanli)

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