Without the Sun our planet would be a boring place. There wouldn't be any life, of course, due to lack of heat, but also due to lack of chemical reactions depending on sunlight. Solar activity is what triggers processes in near-Earth space and in our atmosphere including phenomena like the northern lights. Recently the Sun has been rather inactive for a couple of year. In fact, the Sun has been less active than at any other time during the space age, i.e. the last 60 years or so. During this quiet time we were able to observe phenomena in our atmosphere, which would otherwise have been swamped by the high variability of solar activity and its consequences.
Recently, solar scientist Chris Davis of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK chose his ten favourite images of our star. Chris works on the STEREO mission, but has chosen a variety of personal and professional views from spacecraft including SOHO and Voyager - and a few pictures from here on Earth.