We may not see sunshine every day here on Earth, but the sun is always shining in space! A collection of 365 satellite images show how the face of the sun appeared every day in 2018, as seen through the eyes of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Proba-2 satellite. You can see all 365 images stitched together in a time-lapse video.
Proba-2 showed that the sun had a relatively uneventful year regarding sunspots and solar flares. As the sun spins, very few bright active regions and dark sunspots rotate into view. That's because there was a lull in its 11-year cycle of activity during 2018. Scientists predict that the sun's activity should start to pick up in 2019, with the next peak coming in 2024.
"One way to assess the level of activity is by counting sunspots (dark spots in the images), or recording the strength of solar flares," ESA officials said in a statement. "The most energetic flare of 2018 was recorded on 7 February, from a small region located at central latitudes in the eastern hemisphere of the sun." You can see the little flare in the third row of the collage on the left side of the sun. [Photos: Sunspots on Earth's Closest Star]
Orbiting 450 miles (725 kilometers) above the Earth, Proba-2 has kept a constant eye on the sun to monitor space weather since 2009. Proba-2 captured these 365 images using a camera called SWAP, which stands for "Sun Watcher using Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing." Proba-2 has also observed solar eclipses from its special vantage point in low Earth orbit.