NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which keeps a 24/7 vigil on the sun, just released this spectacular video composite to mark five years since the spacecraft was launched.
The SDO was being designed and built while Plait was working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The astronomer says he remembers discussing with colleagues how much data would be sent back to Earth and how much would be seen by the probe.
"I had no idea," he writes (emphasis his). "SDO is far more than I imagined, and has revealed our active and complex star far better than anything before it."