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10 incredible images of the sun

space shuttle flying by bright yellow sun

Photo: NASA/Thierry Legualt

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Transiting the sun

This image, taken from Florida, shows the Space Shuttle Atlantis crossing the sun. Eight planets orbit the sun as satellites, as well as countless other objects. Some estimate that in 5 to 7 billion years, the sun will become a red giant — when it has depleted its hydrogen stores and starts to burn helium. It will expand to nearly 256 times its current size, most likely absorbing Earth but if not, certainly leaving it a desiccated molten shell of its former self. (If humanity still exists, let's hope it will be in a form that can move to a more hospitable neighborhood.) The photographer made this image using a solar-filtered Takahashi five-inch refracting telescope and a Canon 5D Mark II digital camera.