Mesmerised by solar rain

I often like to just sit at the window and watch the rain coming down outside. There’s something calm and peaceful about it. The noise, the droplets sliding down the glass distorting the view of the world outside.

Equally mesmerising is this view captured by the cameras of NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory. Being able to witness this event through SDO’s eyes is amazing enough, but I like to imagine that I’m looking out the window of my spacecraft as an eruption on the sun produces a powerful solar flare and creates a dazzling magnetic display known as coronal rain.

I’d probably choose the same soundtrack to play over my headset as the hot plasma in the corona cools and condenses along strong magnetic fields in the region of the outburst.

Magnetic fields are invisible, but special filters on my cabin window cover the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms and would allow me to see the charged plasma as it’s forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly and outlining the fields as the ‘rain’ slowly falls back to the solar surface.

Far from being a cooling rain, the temperatures in this glowing plasma sit at about 50,000 Celsius.

I am warmed by that thought. 

Here at my ‘spaceship’ screen on Earth, I can safely witness the heavens pouring down in a stunning display of nature’s power and still feel calm and peaceful.