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Beginning July 5, our Solar Dynamics Observatory watched a sunspot — an area of intense and complex magnetic fields — rotate into view. The satellite continued to track the region as it grew and eventually rotated across the Sun and out of view on July 17. With their complex magnetic fields, sunspots are often the source of interesting solar activity. During its 13-day trip across the face of the Sun, the active region — dubbed AR12665 — put on a show for our Sun-watching satellites, producing several solar flares, a coronal mass ejection and a solar energetic particle event. Image Credit: NASA
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Rhea is a heavily-cratered, airless world, while Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere is even thicker than Earth’s. This natural color image was taken in visible light by the Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 19, 2009, at a distance of approximately 713,300 miles (1,148,000 kilometers) from Rhea. After a nearly 20-year mission that overflowed with discoveries, the Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
A single, tiny one appeared on Jan. 31, but even that is hard to see in this rotating view from our Solar Dynamics Observatory. The video shows a rotating sun in filtered light for the past week, but it is even hard to tell the sun is rotating since there are just about no features. This spotless period is a prelude to the approaching period of solar minimum next year, when the Sun’s activity will be at the low end of its 11-year cycle. Credit: NASA/SDO