One might not suspect that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration aka NASA would have a sense of humor but when it comes to this year’s Halloween festivities they’ve really outdone themselves.
In a display of jocularity, the space agency took a composite photo of our Sun and it looks surprisingly like a traditional Jack O’ Lantern.
This photo should be a hit for Halloweenphiles and kids all over who celebrate the ancient festival but is not an official holiday in the US.
These fantastic pics were captured by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio that took a series of images and composed them into the eerie grinning image of the Jack O’ Lantern. It was on October 8 the photos were taken and each wavelength of light that the sun was emitting was captured and processed through special filters to separate them from other light wavelengths.
The brighter spots on the pics are areas that are more active meaning the energy and light released are of a higher intensity. The swirling magnetic field that appear in the upper atmosphere of the star are the reason for the complex fluctuations. At work here are two specific wavelengths, 171 Angstroms and 193 Angstroms. An Angstrom is an infinitesimally small unit of measurement measuring only 0.1 nanometers, or one ten billionths of a meter and usually is used to measure electromagnetic wavelengths and other small measurements like that of other microscopic objects. The two wavelengths have generally been colored using hues of yellow and gold light.
NASA says that because the pictures came out like the traditional colors of a Jack O’ Lantern was not intended.
This photo-op by NASA is just another good way of engaging the public in a friendly manner. The space program needs more support, and although there are tantalizing tales of projects that include manned missions to Mars, NASA has become disappointing due to their probes to Mars not finding life after decades of searching, a Space Shuttle program now ended and the Russians making forays into space as well as civilian corporations that are taking the thunder away from NASA.
Good public relations are fine and NASA needs to do more. Make space interesting and understandable so that the public can feel part of the action and see where their tax dollars are going.