Archive for category News

Warning concerning Movie and Screenshot Histories is moving to using HTTPS instead of HTTP.  This means that all communications between your browser and are encrypted. The switch to using HTTPS only will happen on September 30th.  An unfortunate side effect of this is that your movie and screenshot histories will be lost.  This is due to security features in your browser, which are explained below. uses the HTML5 LocalStorage property to store your links to the movies on your computer.  LocalStorage does not allow data from a regular HTTP page (for example to be accessed by pages served from its HTTPS version (for example,, and vice versa.  This is done to improve security; for example, you want to isolate values created during a secure session from unsecured sessions.  The practical effect of this security is that when we switch to using HTTPS, the histories created when was using HTTP cannot be accessed by your web browser when starts to use HTTPS.  So your movie and screenshot histories will not be viewable in

The switch to using HTTPS does not affect any movie links to  If you have a link for example, , then the server will automatically switch to using the secure version, .  Please make a note of any movie links you want to keep a hold of.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  If you have questions concerning the change from HTTP to HTTPS, please let us know.


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The Helioviewer Project is pleased to announce that 3.1 is now available. This new version of adds two new features, an event timeline and improved YouTube movie browsing.

The event timeline allows you to pan backwards and forwards in time, and zoom in and out, browsing what happened and when it happened on the Sun.  It is accessible via a tab at the bottom of the viewer window, and works in the same way as the image timeline.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.30.15 PM


The YouTube movie browser now allows you to see if any shared movies include the date and time you are looking at.  It’s a way of finding out what other people have seen on the Sun.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 5.06.22 PM


This new feature was suggested by a user of If you have a suggestion of how to improve, please email us at

Thanks, and we hope that you enjoy this new version of

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One week from today: Transit of Mercury, May 9 2016

Mercury will transit the disk of the Sun on May 9 from 11:20 to 18:45 UTC. This is a rare event, and it will be observed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.  The last transit observable from the Earth was on November 8, 2006 and the next one won’t be visible until November 11 2019. Remember:

Never look at the uneclipsed Sun with unprotected eyes!
Always use sun-safe optics to look at the Sun.

The row of black dots indicate where Mercury will pass.  SDO will be making special observations of the transit, and will be providing near-real time updates of images as they come.  These observations allow SDO scientists to better understand how the Sun is oriented on SDO’s cameras.

Helioviewer will also be providing the images SDO.  Check back on May 9 2016 to watch Mercury transit the Sun!


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Normal Helioviewer services now resumed

Full Helioviewer Project services originating at NASA –, JHelioviewer and the Helioviewer API – are now back up and running. Over the next couple of days we will be backfilling in missing data from the period October 1 – 17, 2013. Thanks to our colleagues at the Space Influences Data Center (SIDC) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium for providing Helioviewer services in that period.

JHelioviewer users who edited their user profile files to use the ROB server can switch back to using Helioviewer services at NASA by removing the edits

We thank you for your patience over the past couple of weeks.

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Over one million movies created

We’ve reached an amazing milestone thanks to you, our users. Users of and Jhelioviewer have created over one million movies since we started counting them in February 2011. This represents an incredible amount of interest from you – our users – in the Sun and the inner heliosphere. We’d like to thank you for your continued interest in exploring our star and its influence in interplanetary space.

The millionth movie was of one hour’s worth of data from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on SDO, focusing on this small but fast ejection from the Sun.

This led to a faint and extended coronal mass ejection seen in LASCO C2.

The coronal mass ejection was noticed in many different online catalogs of features and events in the Sun, but the original eruption was not. This is an example of how users are finding events on the Sun which are sometimes overlooked.

Just before the millionth movie, someone made this movie of one week of solar activity. This movie shows many different flares and eruptions of all sizes over the course of a week. Also, about 10 seconds into the movie (beginning around 2013-04-17 16:30 UT), you can see that black edges appear on all sides of the field of view. This is caused by the SDO spacecraft pointing slightly away from the center of the Sun for short periods of time. SDO does this to enable measurements of the AIA and HMI detectors. These measurements are a regular and normal part of running the AIA and HMI instruments, and allow us to keep track of the degradation of the detectors.

We’ll be adding new functionality and datasets to the Helioviwer Project in the next few months. We are committed to making it easy for everyone everywhere to explore the Sun and inner heliosphere, in the way you want. We hope that you continue to enjoy using and Jhelioviewer. If you have any ideas on how we can improve our service, please let us know.

Finally we’d like to thank the many NASA, ESA and JAXA funded organizations that have made the Helioviewer Project possible.


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Yohkoh SXT full disk images now available

We are happy to announce the availability of full disk Yohkoh Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) images on SXT images x-rays from the Sun, and therefore looked at some of the hottest plasmas on the Sun. These data are important in trying to understand solar flares and the heating of the Sun’s corona.

Yohkoh (“Sunshine”) was launched in August 30, 1991, from the Kagoshima Space Center (Uchinoura) in Japan, and was a project of the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). The scientific objective was to observe the energetic phenomena taking place on the Sun, specifically solar flares in x-ray and gamma-ray emissions.


Yohkoh carried four instruments to detect energetic emissions from the Sun: the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT), the Hard X-Ray Telescope (HXT), the Bragg Crystal Spectrometer (BCS) and the Wide Band Spectrometer (WBS). A team from the United States collaborated on SXT, and teams from the United States and the United Kingdom collaborated on BCS.

SXT imaged X-rays in the 0.25 – 4.0 keV range. SXT used thin metallic filters to acquire images in restricted portions of the energy range. We are making images from the thin aluminium filter (thin-Al), and the aluminium-magnesium-manganese filter (AlMgMn) available. White-light images are also available up until November 1992. An example thin-aluminium image is shown below.


SXT could resolve features down to 2.5 arc seconds in size. Information about the temperature and density of the plasma emitting the observed x-rays was obtained by comparing images acquired with the different filters. Flare images could be obtained every 2 seconds. Smaller images with a single filter could be obtained as frequently as once every 0.5 seconds.

Yohkoh ceased operations on December 14, 2001. The SXT images we are making available cover portions of Solar Cycles 22 and 23 (we are currently somewhere close to the maximum of Solar Cyce 24). This historical data allows us to compare current solar behavior to previous solar behavior. Such studies allow us to better understand how the Sun operates on timescales of decades and longer.

Yohkoh SXT images are the first images of soft X-ray data available on We hope you enjoy examining this different view of the Sun on

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Planned Helioviewer Outage Beginning 25 September, 21:00 UT

All Helioviewer Project services will be brought down beginning at approximately 21:00 UT on 25th September 2012. This is a planned outage, and is required to perform necessary maintenance. and the JHelioviewer server at the Goddard Spaceflight Center will be unavailable. Helioviewer Project images used by third party applications will also be unavailable. We expect to return to normal service at approximateky 13:00 UT on 26th September 2012. We apologize for this necessary but brief interruption in our services.

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Coding Opportunities for Students: JHelioviewer and SunPy join ESA’s Summer of Code in Space

ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012 (SOCIS) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It offers student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, students will be paired with mentors from participating project teams, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development. The program is inspired by (but not affiliated or related in any way to) Google’s Summer of Code initiative.

JHelioviewer, in collaboration with the start-up company Luxunda, and SunPy have been selected as mentoring organizations, and students are encouraged to apply until 27 July 2012 (11 am UTC).

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The Sun Today: Double Blast – Exciting Space Weather from AR11429

Dr. Alex Young over at The Sun Today posted a really nice video describing the multiple flares and CMEs from this morning. Definitely worth a watch if you want to know what is going on during the eruptions and the impact it is having on Earth.


Update 2012/03/07

Here are a couple more related videos from LittleSDO:

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Service resumed; geomagnetic storm predicted for Tuesday January 24th

As you will already know since you are reading this, Helioviewer Project services have now returned to nominal operations earlier than anticipated. Thanks to all those concerned for their work and for keeping the downtime to a minimum!

Just before our scheduled outage, many of our users caught sight of a flaring active region (videos below). Well, since then the Solar Weather Prediction Center

“has issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch with G2 level storming likely and G3 level storming possible, with the storm continuing into Wednesday, Jan 25. All of this activity is related to a moderate (R2) Radio Blackout x-ray flare that erupted Sunday night (11pm EST).”

which the self-same flaring event spotted by our users. This is a developing story – please consult the Solar Weather Prediction Center for more updates on the progress of the storm. There is great animation of the predicted progress of the coronal mass ejection through interplanetary space as it comes towards Earth here. Geomagnetic storms are temporary disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field; this one is predicted to be moderate, possibly strong. On average, there are a few of these every year; the good news is that if you haven’t noticed one before, you’re probably not going to notice this one.

I’ve included some videos of the flaring event below, made by Helioviewer users and shared with Helioviewer and YouTube users – thanks everyone!

YouTube user Idontwannastopat6

Nice close-up of the flare in SDO/AIA 304 ansgtrom from YouTube user 666redwater.

YouTube user 666redwater also made a zoomed-out video of this event using the SDO/AIA 131 filter. In this filter you see very different structures compared to SDO/AIA 304 and 171. There are a total of 10 filters of AIA, each of them telling us something different about the structure of the sun’s atmosphere.

YouTube users MeireRuiz7 and usog180 shared these wide-angle SDO/AIA 304 movies.

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Service resumed

We are very pleased to announce that Helioviewer Project services are now back online.

This means that, JHelioviewer, and other applications that use Helioviewer Project services are now available and should be working as before. If you encounter any problems with any of our services please let us know. We are currently filling in missing data from 2011/08/05 through to 2011/09/16, and we ask for your patience during the next couple of weeks as we fill in the gaps. If you notice any gaps, please let us know, as we are eager to have as complete a record of solar activity as possible.

We do apologize for the interruption in service. This was caused by two distinct and unfortunately simultaneous hardware malfunctions on our server that took a long time to repair. We are looking exploring options that will ensure such a long break in service does not happen again. We are back now, and we hope you continue to explore your heliosphere!

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2011/06/27 – AIA data availability problems

We apologize for the lack of new images from AIA. This is due to issues outwith our control. We create the images you see from AIA level 1.5 data products (the number refers to the degree of image calibration, etc., that has been applied to the raw data) that are processed at SDO Joint Science Operations Center. As you can see, those data appear to be lagging at the moment. As soon as the data returns, Helioviewer will automatically generate images and make them available.

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Want to know more about the Helioviewer Project?

Helioviewer Logo
Dan Pendick recently posted an excellent series of articles about the Helioviewer Project on his blog, Geeked on Goddard. In five short articles Dan describes many of the different parts of the project, including and JHelioviewer. He also discusses some of the technologies that have made all of this possible. If you are interested in learning more about the project and how it all works, you should definitely check out the articles. Also, if you are a science/tech enthusiast I would highly recommend subscribing to Dan’s blog where you can learn more about some of the other cool projects that call the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center their home.

Topics covered:

Post 1 of 5: Explore the sun on your desktop with Helioviewer
Post 2 of 5: Getting Started with
Post 3 of 5: Explore the sun in depth with JHelioviewer
Post 4 of 5: How it works: building the Helioviewer “back end” with JPEG2000
Post 5 of 5: Helioviewer’s future: an Internet for solar image data

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High quality STEREO images now available

We are pleased to announce that the most recent, high quality STEREO images are now available on

The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) mission is very different from the other missions (Solar Dynamics Observatory and SOHO) we feature on

First off, there are two spacecraft, called STEREO-A and STEREO-B. Both spacecraft orbit the Sun at roughly 1 AU (astronomical unit), or about as far away from Sun as the Earth is. However, STEREO-A is moving ahead of the Earth in its orbit, and STEREO-B is drifting behind the Earth in its orbit. This means that each STEREO spacecraft sees different parts of the Sun, parts that we can’t see from Earth. STEREO-B sees features on the Sun that we eventually see in SDO and SOHO, and STEREO-A allows us to see the continuing evolution of features that we did see in SDO and SOHO.

This plot shows where each spacecraft is now:

As you can see, they are quite far away from the Earth. This puts some operational constraints on each spacecraft that means we get high-quality images two days after they were taken. These are the data we are making available today; images from June 1st 2011, up to the most recently available data will be available initially. We ask for your patience, as we are uploading these images right now. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be making images from earlier in the mission available so that you can explore the Sun from many different angles over the past 4 1/2 years.

The benefit of seeing the Sun from many different angles is apparent when you look at the following three videos of the prominence eruption of June 7, 2011. The first one consists of images from SDO-AIA and SOHO-LASCO

We hope you enjoy these new images! As ever, please let us know if you spot any problems.

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Sneak peak at STEREO data…

We’re working on including data from NASA’s STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, mission. It’s a mission consisting of two spacecraft, one drifting ahead of the Earth, and drifting behind, taking images of the Sun and the inner heliosphere. The concept behind the mission is to view the Sun as a three-dimensional object, from which we can better understand its surface structures and how it influences the inner heliosphere. This is the view from STEREO-A, and this is the view of the same event from STEREO-B. Both movies are of coronagraph data taken with the COR2 instrument; both STEREO spacecraft have the same instrument suites onboard.

We hope to have a stream of the very latest STEREO images very soon. Watch this space!

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