Sunspot AR 1711 rests on a beautiful bed of orange in this vivid night sky photo.
Sunspots form when magnetic fields on the sun's surface shift and appear as visibly dark regions on the photosphere. These temporary phenomena can actually be cooler than surrounding material. Sunspots can also be the cause of solar flares and other activity.
Astrophotographer JP Brahic captured this photo from France on April 5. He used a refractor Astro-Physics 155mm F/D 8.5 and a Bassler ACA1300 camera with filter H-Alpha 1A ° to capture the image.
"As spring returns to France, we can finally observe the sun again," Brahic told SPACE.com in an email.
The sun is in an active phase of its 11-year weather cycle and is expected to reach its peak activity in 2013. The current sun weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing stargazing photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.