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Space Science

Incredible Images of the Sun 239

shelterit writes "A new swedish telescope facility in La Palma uses a new technology to remove the blurriness of the atmosphere to snap new and astonishingly sharp images of the sun. Want to have a closer look at the surface of it? Reminds me of paintings I did as a kid."
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Incredible Images of the Sun

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by veeoh ( 444683 )
    Still not as good as space based, but a damn sight cheaper! :)

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:08AM (#4667390)
      While this new system works great for the visible spectrum of the Sun's output, you still want a space-based observatory to monitor the Sun's output in the other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. That's why satellites like SOHO are still important.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by teridon ( 139550 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:20AM (#4667441) Homepage
      On the contrary []:

      The filaments' newly revealed dark cores are seen to be thousands of kilometers long but only about 100 kilometers wide. Resolving features 100 kilometers wide or less is a milestone in solar astronomy and has been achieved here using sophisticated adaptive optics, digital image stacking, and processing techniques to counter the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere. At optical wavelengths, these images are sharper than even current space-based solar observatories can produce.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by two_ply ( 610736 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:33AM (#4667501)
        "these images are sharper than even current space-based solar observatories can produce. "

        By using new technology earth based observatories have made an advance over *current* space based observatories. Doesn't it follow that by using the same advances space based observatories will exceed earth based ones once they can be implemented? Also, they're be no need for correcting for the atmosphere ...

        • No, it doesn't follow because the advances don't apply to spaced-based observatories. The images are sharper because of 1) adaptive optics 2) the observatory has a larger mirror(s). The only way a space-based observatory is going to get better images is a larger mirror. And, as you pointed out, there's no need for adaptive optics in space.

          • Actually adaptive optics in space is nothing new. Since weight is a major factor in placing any payload in orbit, optical face sheets are made as thin as possible. Once freed of gravitational constraints, the optics will deform. Thermal deformations also come into play.

      • jeez. do the mods actually read these posts ?

        MtViewGuy says : While this new system works great for the visible spectrum of the Sun's output, you still want a space-based observatory to monitor the Sun's output in the other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum You will note that he ignores the critical first 3 words in that Nasa sentence.

        teridon says "no, on the contrary, thats not true", and provides this quote from to support his refutation. "At optical wavelengths, these images are sharper than even current space-based solar observatories can produce."

        and gets modded up to 5 ?

        Hello.... READ. teridon basically confirmed what the other dude said - it works great, but only for for VISIBLE spectrum.

        optical != electomagnetic.

        /me shakes his head and mutters...

        • Hello.. perhaps it wasn't clear from my post, but I was responding to this post [], which said " Still not as good as space based [...]".

          Lighten up "dude".

          • soz. I'm agravvated by a recent trend, and I guess I took it out on you. Dude.

            Last week someone posted an incorrect formula for Bayesian filtering and got modded up to 5, and before that someone posted a completely bogus discussion of processor pipelining which also got modded up to 5.

            Seems like all you have to do is provide the illusion of information to get modded up.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Peterus7 ( 607982 )
        What amazes me is that in essence each one of those bright cells are as big as Texas, and that the level of resolution is so fuggin high. How did they get it that sharp?
      • The link teridon posted is actually NASA's "Astronomy picture of the day" for November 14. [] It's a closeup of the Sun, the best of those Swedish pictures featured in the story. You can also look over NASA's archive of such pix [] here. Incredible variety: for example "Leonids over Ayer's Rock", "Gullies on Mars", "Jupiter, Moon, and Bees."

        Anyway, NASA puts up a new image every day, which you can check out by bookmarking this URL. []

  • GIFs??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:05AM (#4667379) Homepage Journal
    What in the world are they thinking putting them up as 3MB GIFs? I understand the need for super accuracy for some purposes, hence the need for lossless TIFFs, but there should be JPEGs for people who don't need perfect reproductions: The smooth gradients lend themselves to JPEG compression.
    • Re:GIFs??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by teridon ( 139550 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:23AM (#4667457) Homepage
      Here's [] a JPEG.
      • Well now the fun with these super detailed pictures is to see if we can pick out images!

        If you scroll down to the "bottom" of that image, line yourself up with the very top of that monstrous sunspot and then cut directly left, you can see a nearly perfect image of a face.

        Now I guess we sit back and wait for the conspiracy theories to fly.
      • Re:GIFs??? (Score:3, Funny)

        by The Fun Guy ( 21791 )
        OH MY GOD!!!!! LOOK AT IT, JUST LOOK AT IT!!!!!!!

        You can see all the horns at the top! Just above the central blackness! It's Satan and his minions! Reverend Bobby was RIGHT! It's the SCIENTISTS and all of their TECNOLOGY have finally!!! opened the DOOR TO HELL!!!!! He said they put DAEMONS in our computers, and on the InterNet, but I didn't believe!

        Oh, JESUS, I am heartily sorry for the sins I have committed, and I reject the **EVIL** TECNOLOGY of the SCIENTISTS and their DAEMONS! Have Mercy On ME, oh LORD, and on my brother, Willum Jeffry Scraggins, who now lives in New York under the name of Will Craig, and also on his wife Rachel (though she is an Unbeliever, if you know what I mean).
    • by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:51AM (#4667562)
      From my days doing Earth Observation Science (EOS) I recall that a lot of satellite imaging, whether astronomical or remote sensing, seemed to follow a de-facto standard of a 512 x 512 x 8bit image tile per channel on the instrument.

      GIFs were often used because it is a very stable way of doing lossless compression at 8bit, stable as in almost any image program can read them.

      This is not the case with TIFFs as there are a number of variants and options in the file format.

      TIFFs are however a better medium for storage of composite images, either spatially or spectorally (montages or multichannel pseudo colour in english).

      Due to its general lack of use as a data storage format most of the tools I used/wrote to proccess image data files generally did not have JPEG support or other common 'display' options as the file is regarded as data, not an image - its a subtle difference but explains the mindset.

      When I published stuff on the web I'd run our raw large images through Photoshop to get pleasing images but compact file sizes.

      It may not have occured for them to do this, and anyway they may regard this as publishing data for other interested parties to download and process themselves.
    • Also gif are not as lossless as people think, people tend to forget that color resolution is very important and gif only have 256 of them.
    • Well, given the beating their site is getting right now, I'll bet they wish they had used a better format. :)

    • Re:GIFs??? (Score:3, Informative)

      At the very least they could've used PNGs. GIFs are evil [].
  • by Henriok ( 6762 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:06AM (#4667385)
    I live in Sweden and I haven't seen the sun for ages. If my calendar is correct.. i might see the sun again in 3-4 months time. I really don't know if I can stand it that long.
  • Also on MSNBC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alcazar ( 207930 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:07AM (#4667388) Homepage
    MSNBC posted this article last night [] It might be more reachable...
    • The article has a blurb next to the picture:
      The highest resolution solar image ever shows part of the largest sunspot in Active Region 10030. The central region is dark because the strong magnetic fields there stop upwelling hot gas from the solar interior.

      Ok, so that's SUPPOSED to explain why it's dark.. by I thought fire gave off light. While I can see a strong magnetic field blocking gas, shouldn't the surrounding gas give off enough light to see in the hole itself?

      Or is the hole just THAT BIG? (But light from the sun gets to us, you'd think it could light a hole from all sides..)

      • by drudd ( 43032 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:39AM (#4667957)
        Yes, it's that big. Many sunspots are twice the diameter of the earth.

        The real reason they are "dark" is that they are cooler than the gas aronud them. Not that they are cold of course. From one of my astro textbooks:

        Temperature of sunspot: 3900K
        Temperature of surrounding photosphere: 5780K

        Resulting in approximately 1/5 the flux (bolometric flux goes as T^4).

        • The real reason they are "dark" is that they are cooler than the gas aronud them.

          Ahh so there's just isn't a 'void' there as "stop upwelling hot gas from the solar interior", would seem to suggest. I guess 'cold' gas is upwelling from the interior :).

          That's what I was wondering. Thanks!

          • Not quite, but almost. :-)

            The magnetic fields are forcing upwelling gas away from the spot (hot as well as cold). However, the effect can only be so strong. Even the magnetic fields of the sun can't cause a complete vacuum in the sunspot. Gass will diffuse in from every direction.

            The end result is that the region simply has a somewhat lower density than surrounding regions. Lower density==lower temperature==(much) lower luminosity.

  • by Sad Loser ( 625938 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:08AM (#4667389)
    you obviously didn't live in the UK then. My paintings always had that 'grey sky' look.
  • Buried in the site (Score:5, Informative)

    by dubbayu_d_40 ( 622643 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:09AM (#4667397)
    Took me awhile to find out how it works. In a nutshell: "The adaptive mirror actually changes shape 1000 times a second in order to adjust for the rapidly changing blurring of the image. Finally, we are using techniques to further sharpen the images after they have been captured by electronic cameras. In the best images the resolution is close to 0.1 arcseconds. This is a factor of 1200 better than 20/20 vision."
    • A factor of 1200 better than 20/20 vision? Hmmm, wonder if there would be someway to adapt this for other (read military, then trickle to the public) purposes.... I mean, really, imagine a soldier wearing a small set of optics that are able to allow him to clearly see a tank at 100 miles, or even better, allow a tank to see a tank at 100 miles, planes could benefit too. Of course I personally would get a kick out of a nice pair of super-glasses with this tech enabled so that I could finally read those pesky road signs at a mile or two away :)
      • Well, I think the size of the mirror used might make it impractical for a soldier to carry one of these things around in a pair of goggles. ;) Also, it's a lot harder to apply adaptive optical techniques to lenses than to mirrors -- I work for a microscopy company [] (not as an optical engineer, granted, but that's what a lot of my coworkers do, and I hear them bitching) and we've had a hell of a time applying adaptive optical techniques to anything -- we have one product based on this idea that's only started shipping this year. I suspect the problems with lens-based telescopes and binoculars would be even worse, since the lenses in question are so much bigger.

        That being said, I would be very surprised if there weren't military spy satellites, and perhaps reconnaisance planes, already using this.
      • The military has been using this technology for ages. HTH.
    • I believe they're referring to Adaptive Optics. You can find out more about AO here: What Is Adaptive Optics? []
  • I see (Score:5, Funny)

    by djweis ( 4792 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:12AM (#4667409) Homepage
    You can't fool us, that's really one of van Gogh's sunflower [] paintings.
    • I'm not as familiar with Van Gogh, but I was thinking it looked like an orange version of "Starry Night".

      Probably something about it being a star, though...
  • Maybe slashdot could offer mirroring of websites that need it before they link them. CNN and NYTimes might be able to handle the extra traffic but a geocities page will not.
  • <expletives deleted for the feeble hearted>

    So will some kind hearts who can still access it copy the pages FTTB? I would myself, but I can't get in...

    But it's nice the general scientific community still shares its assets, instead of copyrighting it and hiding it behind massive fees, like Craig Venter did.

    Now if only I could find a geological map of the Netherlands without the usual atlas texts all over them, so i can make a nice RT2 simulation of the Dutch railways growth since trains got invented. ;-)


  • Appology (Score:5, Funny)

    by InsaneCreator ( 209742 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:15AM (#4667426)
    Sunset will be canceled tonight, due to the slashdotting of the sun.
  • Summer Fun (Score:5, Funny)

    by nukey56 ( 455639 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:16AM (#4667428)
    If you look real close on that image, a little to the left of the giant black spot, you can just about see the Old Navy crew in their cargo shorts. Glad to know that advertisement worked.
  • another link (Score:5, Informative)

    by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:19AM (#4667434) Homepage Journal
    In case the above site gets roasted, also has pics and article.
    This article [] has the links.You can also zoom in and use the viewer.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:19AM (#4667435) Journal
    We've been to the moon, and Mars will be next, followed by Venus, but what will we do when we've run out of planets? Clearly the option is the Sun.

    Photos like these will show us where the potential landing sites are. Very useful since the lander will have to find somewhere that's not only flat but free of excessive RF noise so that we can communicate with Earth.

    So, obviously, someone will ask - How can we possible build something to get to the sun? Well, this is quite simple, Firstly we use regrigeration devices. These will require some considerable energy, as well as a decent fusion power source to keep them going. Secondly, we avoif reflective surfaces. The other thing to remember is that we only need to travel during the night. During the day is when the sun is hottest, so travel at night should help cool us considerably. This will require better propulsion mechanisms that can do the bulk of the travelling in the 12 hours of night.
    • i hope this is a joke heh. how can you travel to sun "at night"? night exists because of earth rotation. when you are traveling to sun its "day" all the time..... then sun is gas giant there is no surface, density increases all the time but there is no surface as on earth....
    • Oh come on moderators! The previous comment was funny! I don't know why it got "flamebait"... its a high-tech update of the old "Polish Astronauts" joke.
  • Mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:20AM (#4667440)
    The images are slashdotted, so I've provided a mirror. Go outside (that's through the door over there, pale face) and look up.
  • mirror! (Score:5, Informative)

    by caveat ( 26803 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:22AM (#4667452)
    well, at least the closeup of a sunspot [] and one of the filaments []. but please be nice, it's a new powermac, i don't want it melted just yet :P
  • Finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by Crasoum ( 618885 )
    I don't need to burn my pupils to see a good view of the sun from the earth. But that spf 300 lotion burnt more then the sun ever did...
  • extra link. (Score:4, Informative)

    by budalite ( 454527 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:25AM (#4667467)
    Also available at APOD - Astronomy Picture of the Day []. Enjoy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:28AM (#4667482)
    Here are the images from the site -- a picture of the Sun:

    / \
    | |
    | |

    Hope that helps to beat the Slashdotting.
  • by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:32AM (#4667497) Journal
    site's burnt already...looks like that's what you get for staring into the sun.
  • If they're really seeing the actual surface features of the sun to this detail without synthesizing data then maybe the same technique can be applied to extrasolar planets to image details as small as life forms.
  • Adaptive Optics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hawaiian Lion ( 411949 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:38AM (#4667527)
    The technology used by this telescope to counter the effects of the atmosphere in measurements is called adaptive optics. This is the first application I know of for adaptive optics on a solar telescope.

    This technology has been around for awhile, and was first seriously developed by the military at the Starfire Optical Range [].

    Recently it has been used in such telescope projects as the WM Keck Observatory [] and Gemini Project []. I know AO is also used for measurement of eye aberrations, with projects being conducted at several Universities. For more information about Adaptive Optics, I suggest the Center for Adaptive Optics []

    My personal experience with AO was as an intern for Gemini this past summer. I helped write parallel code for a program that simulates current and future adaptive optics systems planned for the next generation of extremely large telescopes.
    • Re:Adaptive Optics (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:05AM (#4667675)
      And the most fun to be had with an Adaptive Optics system is if it uses a laser generated guide star.

      Then you can chuck a frisbee like object through the beam and watch it get zapped :)

      Did I say this was seriously frowned on, I think I should :)

      Adaptive Optics in a Nutshell:

      1) You use a single point source as a reference.
      2) You know the aberation caused by the atmosphere will spread the point image when you receive it.
      3) You know that as your source is a point source, then the resultant spread in your image is entirely due to aberation, so use the image to calculate the Point Spread Function
      4) Using the PSF apply a correction to the light path by altering something in the imaging system, usually a mirror.
      5) Repeat several hundred times a second

      Of course the great side effect is this also removes distortion caused by the imaging system itself, allowing you to use bigger mirrors with a lower tolerance than you otherwise might be able to do.

      Originally point sources were strong and predictable stars in the field of view that you wanted - hence the term 'guide stars'

      With a laser generated guide star you project a spot onto the upper surface of the atmosphere with a powerful laser of an appropriate frequency - close to your obsering frequency, but far enough out that you don't effect the observation. The subtlety here is to account for the fact that the point source will be spread twice, once on the way up and once on the way down.

      Anyone working in AO I apologise to for the somewhat oversimplification - follow the links in the parent to better details if your interest is fired.
  • Cooling question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by forged ( 206127 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @09:41AM (#4667539) Homepage Journal
    How does the cameras sensors not melt and achieve good accuracy by staring into the sun ? Surely they must be cooled off, but how ? The overclocking crowd here must have some insights !

    Btw, I tried to stare at the sun once when I was a kid, that was stupid. I was told too late that one can go blind for doing that -- that must explain the glasses today...

    • Re:Cooling question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Squeak ( 10756 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:27AM (#4667858)
      Increasing the aperture of a telescope has two effects:
      More light is collected. (Since astronomical telescopes are usually used to look at dim objects this is normally considered an advantage.)
      To reduce the diffraction effects and so increase the spatial resolution.

      When observing the sun, the second of these is still required but the first is a problem. The sun provides too much light, especially in the infrared, to observe safely.
      The solution is to place a filter over the front of the telescope which cuts down the amount of light entering the scope. This reduction generally needs to be of the order of 1:1,000,000.
      Filters at the back end of the telescope, directly in front of the eyepiece/camera, are not safe. All the heat from the sun passes the scope through and is focused through this small filter. They can then easily crack or melt.

      Safety notice: The only safe filters for observing the sun are those designed for the job. They are usually thin plastic, sometimes glass, with a metal coating on both sides. Always check the filter is firmly fixed in place and has no scratches or pinholes. It is this filter type which was used in the eclipse safety glasses a few years back. When observing by eye, with no telescope, binoculars or other magnification, welder's No 14 glass or fully exposed and developed black and white film negatives are also safe. (Not colour film or b&w film developed with a colour process - it is the deposited metallic silver used in the b&w process which provides the protection.) NOTHING else is considered safe.

      You can get cooled CCD cameras, and the astrophotographical community has been using them for years. (Well, those than can afford them anyway.) The cooling is required to reduce the 'dark current' within the camera itself during long exposures, not to remove incoming heat.
    • Re:Cooling question (Score:2, Informative)

      by rockerduck ( 28023 )
      How does the cameras sensors not melt and achieve good accuracy by staring into the sun ? Surely they must be cooled off, but how ?

      Oddly enough, the CCD's generally are not cooled at all. The amount of light falling on the detector is actually not that great. Remember that each pixel corresponds to less than 0.1 x 0.1 arcsec, which means it covers about one-billionth of the solar surface (and hence the flux is one billion times less than integrated sunlight). Then you start taking very small slices in wavelength (0.01 nm or less, compared to the 100's of nanometers over the sun's emission peak in the visible wavelengths). Toss in a polarizer too (though they didn't use one in these observations), and next thing you know, you are running out of photons! That's why we need a big (by solar telescope standards) 4-meter telescope like the ATST ( []).

      The exposure times in observations like these are also very short, on the order of 20 milliseconds or less, so there is no time for the dark current to build up during a long exposure (this is why nighttime CCD's, with exposures of minutes or hours, are often cooled). For some applications, even simple video rate CCD's can be used (the problem often being the small number of pixels).

      As you might surmise, even if the detector isn't getting hit with that many photons, a lot of extra light is going through the telescope. Getting rid of waste heat IS a problem, and, as is the case with the Swedish Tower, often the main body of the telescope (entrance aperture -> main mirror -> instrument feed) is kept in a vacuum to reduce currents from heated air in the optical path. However, the Swedish Tower appears to be at the limit for the size of the entrance window (must be of optical quality and with minimal stress) that can be used (the entrance window is the size of the main lens on the Yerkes telescope [] - the world's biggest refractor). That is why bigger telescopes like the GREGOR (1.5 m) and ATST (4 m) will be open, like nighttime telescopes, and will have to use different methods of thermal control. We can't go bigger than four meters now because of the limits of our thermal control capabilities.
  • It'd make the dopest desktop wallpaper to have these closeup images live, near-realtime, on my OSX desktop.

    Then I could actually finally have a decent use for transparent Term windows, I guess... :)
  • Question: Why can't they point Hubble at the Sun and get even better photos? Is Hubble not equipped for such a task?
    • Re:Hubble? (Score:5, Informative)

      by teridon ( 139550 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:18AM (#4667790) Homepage
      Because Hubble is not designed to point at the sun. Thermally, Hubble was designed so that one side of the telescope is always pointed towards the sun. For thermally stability it must always remain that way. Are you going to personally replace Hubble's primary mirror when it cracks due to solar heating?
      • Also the sensors would be overloaded by the brightness of the sun. It can only just handle the brightness of the earth.
  • Reminds me of paintings I did as a kid."

    You painted pictures of 404 errors as a kid? Wow. We slashdotted the sun.

  • Slashdotted (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cinnibar CP ( 551376 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:26AM (#4667852)
    Apparently, staring at the sun isn't healthy for your eyes OR webservers.
  • by rdhill316 ( 513193 ) <> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:28AM (#4667868) Homepage
    the People at Sun get any work done with all that fire and the burning and fusion all going on around them. It's nice that scientists can take pictures of the inside of a leading computer industry company for study, so the rest of the world can see how hard it is to work in the information sector.


    Why are you all looking at me like that?
  • by sielwolf ( 246764 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @10:39AM (#4667951) Homepage Journal
    "Hmmm, neat let me open up these images here..." *Click* "Ahhh! My Eyes!!!!!!"
  • I keep thinking about this, every time some poor site is slammed. This time I'll bring it up publicly and allow it to be exposed as the ridiculous idea that I'm sure it really is.

    The Slashdot Effect is well known, and it seems like only the strongest sites are able to handle it. One of those sites, clearly, is Slashdot itself. Seems like there could be some mirroring done on Slashdot before a story is posted. Of course, the obvious problem with this idea is that Slashdot has never been about actual hosted content (other than the comments, which are arguably the best part about the site), but rather links to content on other servers. But it has become pretty much standard procedure to link to a site with extra cool content every two to three days only to find that the site is completely unable to hang (or all-too-able to "hang", if you know what I mean). Mirrors often pop up on their own, which is great, but I always wonder why Slashdot doesn't just mirror the extra cool content anyway (I would imagine we can all guess what kind of content qualifies for pre-mirroring... super-cool pictures of the Sun, for example).

    The other issue is one of advance notice, which has already been mentioned in this story's comments. I realize that some information is timely and advance notice is not always possible, but the sun's not going anywhere and there could be advanced notification workflow built into the story approval process (ugh, I said "workflow" and "process" in the same sentence). I would suggest that a "site contact" e-mail address or maybe even a phone number be included with story submissions. The "author" (I've never understood why they're called authors when generally they are administrators or approvers only) could then determine in their best judgement whether they think the site is likely to withstand a good slashdotting and, if not, they can have an e-mail message sent to the contact address, which will advise them of the impending slashdotting and give them some options:
    1. Can't handle it or don't want it... don't link to my site (yes, I believe that anybody should have the right to link to anybody, unless there's good reason to believe that linking in this way will seriously affect the operating of the target site)
    2. We would love the publicity but can't handle the load... please mirror and feel free to advertise on the mirrored pages, even replacing any advertisements that we have on our site.
    3. We're either seriously prepared for this or we want to see what happens to our servers just for fun... fire away
    This decision would be made by clicking on a link or filling out a form on the Slashdot site, which would clear that story for submission to the world, once any pre-mirroring takes place.

    I realize this complicates the process, but Slashdot is no doubt aware of it's impact on sites that it links to, and an otherwise good site that gets killed by a terribly unusual load could be made to look like it's run by incompetents, even if it's in perfectly good hands. I wonder how many sites were actually negatively affected by the Slashdot effect, in either the short or the long term.

    So that's my two cents.
  • Its rather interesting to contrast what the Swedes are doing with advanced optics versus what we Americans are. The Swedes are taking pictures of the sun : we're developing a weapon that can destroy airborne targets with high energy beams of death.
    • by tdye ( 308813 )
      It sure is a good thing for the Swedes that they don't have to defend themselves, and thus have the luxury of gazing up at the sun while other countries make sure no one's flying hostile airborne targets over their observatories.

      How is that contrast interesting again?
  • do it yourself (Score:4, Informative)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:07PM (#4668741) Homepage
    Sunspot observing is really easy. It's nice because you don't need a big telescope, and you can do it even from the light-polluted city. First stop your aperture down to a couple of inches if you have a bigger scope. (You can cut a hole in a piece of paper and put it over the mouth of the tube.) Then put a sock over your finderscope to avoid burning holes in your toes. Put an eyepiece in, but don't look through it! Point the scope at the sun. Don't use the finder (duh!) --- just watch the tube's shadow on the ground and make it as small as possible. Hold a piece of paper near the eyepiece, and adjust the focus either with the focus knob or by moving the paper in and out, or both. The sun's image is projected onto the paper.

    I actually do this sometimes for a whole class of students, and for that I need a big, bright image they can all see, so I use the full aperture of my 8-inch scope. You just have to be careful to limit how long you have it pointed at the sun, because the heat can destroy your eyepiece (melts the glue).

  • Heck, I see those in the grocery check-out every week. The Bat-boy, Osama playing cards with Satan, images of Jesus on a taco shell, the 3000-pound transvestite. No need for a telescope, they're available in corner markets everywhere.
  • OH NO!!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:40PM (#4669010)
    The Sun is on FIRE!!!! We're doooooooooooommmmeeddd!!!!!

    If only we had known this before, maybe we could have done something about it!
  • Why Does The Sun Shine,
    by They Might Be Giants

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees

    Yo ho, it's hot, the sun is not
    A place where we could live
    But here on Earth there'd be no life
    Without the light it gives

    We need its light
    We need its heat
    We need its energy
    Without the sun, without a doubt
    There'd be no you and me

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees

    The sun is hot

    It is so hot that everything on it is a gas: iron, copper, aluminum, and many others.

    The sun is large

    If the sun were hollow, a million Earths could fit inside. And yet, the sun is only a middle-sized star.

    The sun is far away

    About 93 million miles away, and that's why it looks so small.

    And even when it's out of sight
    The sun shines night and day

    The sun gives heat
    The sun gives light
    The sunlight that we see
    The sunlight comes from our own sun's
    Atomic energy

    Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine. The heat and light of the sun come from the nuclear reactions of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and helium.

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees
  • The resolution is so good that I think I can make out the ON/OFF switch in one.
  • After clicking on an image at the site and waiting for a good couple of minutes, I realized that my request for images of the sun must be realtime and my lag was the transmission time from the sun back to the earth (isn't that a couple of hours?). Stop with the cruel physics jokes guys, my patience is wearing thin...
  • So now that they see canals [] on the Sun, do they think theres water there too?

  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:50PM (#4669706) Homepage Journal
    Imagine a beowold cluster of-- No, wait... That'd be a black hole. Nevermind.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354