The moon may have turned the sun down once or twice in recent weeks, but now you can see the sun’s poles turn down and up in just a few days. Thanks to a new, ultra high-resolution sun-watching system and some daring observatories, the sun’s dark poles will go from dark to lit in just five days.
The project, called Ayesha 1, was launched Wednesday on an International Space Station supply mission. Ayesha 1, which is Japanese for light, measures the brightness of the sun’s equatorial solar cones and parts of its poles.
When Ayesha 1 detects an eclipse, it activates a set of two filters that concentrate sunlight on to a researcher on the ground.
The team behind the instrument now plans to build a test reactor on the ground to see if Ayesha 1 can detect and measure different types of solar irregularities, including darker sunspots that can make the sun brighter.
Ayesha’s early success will take place during a five-day period when there are no extra-long viewing windows, because the sun is flying by at 500,000 miles per hour. The sun is moving at times of the year when the moon can cover half of it.
The sun’s poles, though, are almost always outside of the line of sight when the moon is standing between you and the sun. Even if you were standing on the other side of the planet, you’d still have to wait until the moon had moved off your horizon to see the sun’s south pole turn off and on.