The Sun is incredibly dynamic — something that's difficult to convey properly in the pages of a book or magazine. If you watch a major solar flare through a telescope, it will often change from one minute to the next. Time-lapse movies compress the time scale, allowing you to see this motion directly.

In the YouTube video above, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite captured a solar flare over a period of roughly five hours on March 19, 2011. The loop grew to several dozen times Earth's size before erupting into outer space.

Many different satellites are now pointed at the Sun, observing it from different points of view and in different wavelengths. Click here for comparative views from three different spacecraft of a solar flare on June 7, 2011. Too see more images and movies from each spacecraft, check out the SDO Gallery. the SOHO Gallery, and the STEREO Gallery.

Space-based telescopes don't have a monopoly on this game. Check out also the amazing images and movies from the Swedish 1-meter Solar Telescope operated by the Institute for Solar Physics.

Click here to find other videos and images for SkyWatch 2012.


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