How do astronomers study the Sun?

An Outreach Project of the
Stanford SOLAR Center


Stanford SOLAR Center, HEPL-B208, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA, 94305-4085

What this course is about.

A six day introduction to Solar Science for middle school students. The purpose is to show students how astronomers study the sun. Students will be introduced to properties of light and build their own spectroscope to study the spectra of elements that are found in the sun. On the final day, a Stanford or Lockheed Solar Astronomer will visit the class and allow the students to look through a portable solar telescope and answer questions.

Day 1: What do we know about the Sun?
Day 2: Building a Spectroscope
Day 3: Calibrate Spectroscope
Day 4: Observing Light
Day 5: Analyzing Light & View Solar Video
Day 6: Solar Astronomer Visit

NOTE: V1.3 Disclaimer Originally designed as part of an IDEAS grant between Stanford (SOHO/SOI) and the Chabot Observatory/Science Center to target middle school students in the Oakland Unified School District. Materials were made directly available to the teachers and students in OUSD. Other schools can order the kits from the Stanford SOLAR Center via email or by regular mail to the address above. For schools in other districts, you might contact the local university or astronomy club to get a visiting amateur or professional astronomer to come to your classroom.

What You'll Need
Course Outline
Spectroscope Construction Notes

Kit Content:

  • Course Outline
  • Spectroscope Construction Notes
  • Solar Science Video - "Colors of the Sun"
  • Spectroscope Template
  • Bag of Ultra-violet sensitive beads (1 bag per class)
  • Diffraction Gratings (1 grating per student)
  • Reference chart of solar spectrum and selected gas spectra
  • Reference chart of Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Blank spectrum form used to draw observed spectra

    We're still in process of making the kits available to a larger audience. A poster will soon be available (August 1999) making it easier to construct the spectroscope. Contact us for details.