Last month we had a look at the planet Mercury using Google Earth, and last year we did the same for various other planets using maps from the SETI Institute. The latter maps are sadly no longer available on the Google Maps Gallery. If any of our readers knows whether those maps are still available somewhere please let us know. We have also shown you a number of similar effects by James Stafford published on his barnabu blog.
Today, we thought we would try the same thing with the Sun.
To view it for yourself in Google Earth, download this KML file. It is best viewed with all layers turned off.
The image used comes from NASA and is a combination of three photos captured on October 14th, 2012. If you look at the poles, the joins are quite obvious. The images were captured by NASA’s two STEREO spacecraft and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). To learn more about them and see how they are able to photograph all sides of the sun at once see this article on the NASA’s website.
Keep in mind that the sun’s surface is always changing and any ‘map’ of it is from a point in time. The same applies to the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.