NASA’s newest solar observatories have released their first images of the Sun, and they’re great. Of course, to really enjoy the pictures, you’ll need 3-D glasses.
The observatories are the twin Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites, which were launched on October 25th, 2006. They both orbit the Sun at the same distance as the Earth, but one has moved ahead of us in orbit, while the other has fallen behind. And between the two spacecraft, it’s like looking at the Sun with binoculars (a bad idea, don’t do it, unless you’re a properly shielded spacecraft).
To properly enjoy this image, you’re really going to need a pair of 3-D glasses. If you don’t have any yet, you can usually get them from a toy store, or inside a children’s book with 3-D images. They’re the glasses with blue and red eyes. NASA has a link to some sources of glasses you can buy here.
A 3-dimensional view of the Sun is very important, as it allows scientists to get a sense of perspective. As coronal mass ejections are generated on the surface of the Sun, they’ll be able to better predict the exact direction the spray of material will go. We’ll get much more accurate space weather forecasts for when material is expected to reach the Earth.
Original Source: STEREO News Release