View Today's Sun and Record Data

What you are going to do:

Using daily pictures collected by the SOHO spacecraft, you are going to observe and record information about the currently visible sunspot groups. What do you think we can learn from watching sunspots?

Don't EVER look directly at the Sun, with or without a telescope (unless you have the proper filters).

What you need to get started:

Print out and make copies of the Sunspot Data Recording worksheet. You will need one for each day of your observations.

 You will also need to make a copy of the
 latitude/longitude grids.
If you can, copy the grids onto transparency paper.

When you view your images:

If you can, print out a copy of the internet solar image every day. If you don't have a printer, sketch the sunspot groups you see. (Try placing the best-sized latitude/longitude grid directly over the image on your screen to find exactly where to sketch your spots.)

  For each of the major sunspots or sunspot groups, record:

  • How many spots in each group
  • Where (i.e. what latitude and longitude) the spot groups lie
  • How large the spot group is -- compare it to the size of the planets given with your best-sized grid, and label the sunspot size with the name of the closest-sized planet. [Or, we could have the kids position little scaled Earths over the sunspot groups, and count how many it takes to fill the thing. This would require a graphical program.]
  • Also note any observable changes in your sunspot groups (has the group changed size, shape, disappeared altogether?)
  • Getting the images:

    SOHO collects solar images in an assortment of wavelengths. Explore the "full disk" images and try several wavelengths to determine which highlight the sunspot groups best. Sunspots will appear as dark or light dots or blotches on the images.

    Start with images for the current day.  If these aren't complete, use the previous days'
    images.   Collect images every day for 10-14 days.
    Then, go on to the other activities.

    Return To Sunspot Activities

    Or, to see the SOHO homepage and explore other information about the Sun, PRESS HERE.