To our eyes, the sun is an intensely bright circle in the sky that appears essentially white. If we pass the sun's light through a prism or diffraction grating we see a continuous rainbow of colors. These colors make up the visible white light from the sun. You can also see the sun in other "colors" as it appears in visible, infrared, ultraviolet, and X ray parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some examples are presented below. Obviously, we cannot see X-rays, so this part of the spectrum must be converted into something we can see. The same is true of the other parts of the electro magnetic spectrum that we cannot detect with our eyes. The sun looks a lot different when viewed through the "eyes" of instruments.

Example of an X ray solar image. Click here to see a QuickTime movie of this solar view (1.5 megs).
Example of an ultraviolet solar image.
Image from SOHO EIT
Example of a visible image of the sun. A filter was used when capturing this image.

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THE GAMMA - RAY
OBSERVATORY (GRO)

CHANDRA X-RAY
OBSERVATORY

THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE (HST)

THE SPACE INFRARED TELESCOPE FACILITY (SIRTF)

Purpose & Discoveries

Purpose & Discoveries

Purpose & Discoveries

Purpose & Discoveries

Related Hands-on Activity

Related Hands-on Activity

Related Hands-on Activities
1. UV Beads
2. Spectroscope

Related Hands-on Activity


Created 1997 The Exploratorium 
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