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Image of the Sun from SOHO
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Courtesy of NASA

SOHO Catches Glimpse of the Sun's "Far Side"
News story originally written on June 23, 1999

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) caught a rare view of the far side of the Sun. Scientists can now see if a solar storm is coming before it reaches Earth. This may save the satellite industry millions of dollars each year.

When the Sun releases large amounts of energy, the light makes patches of hydrogen gas glow. This glow is invisible to Earth, but not to SOHO. This new technology can give scientists a few days warning before the storm actually hits.

SOHO also captured the largest shadow ever seen. When Comet Hale-Bopp passed by in 1997, SOHO took a few photographs. Behind the comet, was a shadow over 150 million kilometers long. When the comet came near the Sun, it developed a long tail made of hydrogen. This tail and the comet itself were projected onto the sky.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF