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Activities for Students

You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it for himself.
-Galileo Galilei

Tour through these topics to find exciting activities, images, interactive tools, text, and other resources to let you research our special star -- the Sun.

Check out our new comics series!

Design Your Own Solar Cupcakes!

Build an SDO Hexaflexagon!

Activity Categories:

Featured Activities:

color of the Sun
What color is the Sun?
Have you ever wondered what color the Sun is? Would you like to explore that and related questions using scientific processes?
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Galileo Challenge
Galileo was one of the first and most important observers of the Sun. Why do you think these observations were important to Galileo and to the people of his time? Test your knowledge with our Galileo Quiz!

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Comparison Activities
How big, how hot, and how far is the Sun? These activities are designed to introduce you to the solar scale by comparing the diameter, the temperature, and the distance to the Sun to familiar things on Earth.
Observing the Sun for Yourself
There are several ways you can observe the Sun, and hopefully sunspots, for yourself. The easiest and safest is to project the Sun by building your own pinhole camera. Or, if you have your own telescope, you will need to obtain a solar filter. There are even solar telescopes online, which you can access via the web to observe the Sun.

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Videos about the Sun:

colors and motions of the sun Colors and Motions of the Sun Video
Streaming video "Colors and Motions of the Sun", created by Professor J. Pasachoff and Williams College, Massachusetts.
colors of the sun Colors of the Sun Video
Watch the streaming video of The Colors of the Sun, produced by the Stanford Solar Center and Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab.

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Are Sunspots Really on the Sun?
When Galileo Galilei discovered sunspots, he had a problem. In 1612, he had pointed his new version of the Dutch tool called a "telescope" towards the heavens and found what appeared to be dark smudges on the Sun. How could this be? Find out how Galileo proved that they were spots on the Sun and not undiscovered planets circling the Sun.

sunspot races thumbnail Sunspot Races
Place your bets! Can you correctly predict when spots will disappear or reappear on the Sun?
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The Spinning Sun
Does the Sun spin? If so, how fast? Find out by collecting solar images and then compare your sunspot sketches with those made by Galileo.

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Solar Music:

The Singing Sun
Have you ever wondered what the Sun would sound like if you could hear it?
Our Sun lies 93,000,000 miles away, surrounded by the vacuum of space. Sound won't travel through space, of course. But with the right instrument, scientists can "hear" pulsations from the Sun.
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Eclipses and Music
Solar eclipses are rare enough that there is not alot of music on such a specific topic even though total solar eclipses have always captivated our attention. However, NASA has put together some playlists that remind us of this inspiring pheonomenon of nature.

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Solar Images and Data:

The Solar Dynamics Observory
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is the first mission to be launched for NASA's Living With a Star program, which is designed to understand the causes of solar activity and its impacts on Earth in the hopes of eventually predicting activity which could be dangerous to the Earth. The Solar Observatories Group here at Stanford has one of the key instruments on SDO - the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI).
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SOHO Solar Images and Data
To discover various characteristics of the Sun, you'll need to observe it. Your "eyes" will be the SOHO spacecraft, currently circling the Sun about 1,000,000 miles from Earth. With SOHO's 12 specialized scientific instruments, we can explore everything from the Sun's glorious halo or "corona", to the violent magnetic storms on its surface, to the sound waves which help us understand the mysteries of the Sun's deep interior.

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The Electromagnetic Spectrum:

the sun in ultraviolet light
What is Ultraviolet Light?
This activity explores ultraviolet light -- what it is, where it comes from, how we can detect it, and what effects it has upon us and our Earth.
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Build a Spectroscope
The visible spectrum is only a part of what our sun, a star, emits
within the electromagnetic spectrum. In this activity, you can build a working spectroscope to study the nature of light.
cereal box spectroscope
Cereal Box Spectroscope
How to make a very basic spectroscope using a diffraction grating and cereal box.

STEREO Learning Center

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Make a Simple Sundial
Learn how to make a sundial by using a simple template, some tape, and a pencil.

Other Sundial Links

This page gives a comprehensive list of links to sundial related pages in the WWW.

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Other Activities and Exercises:

magnetic loops on the Sun

Magnetism & The Sun
This activity covers the basic principles of magnetism. Learn how they apply to phenomena on the Sun, such as sunspots, flares, prominences, and coronal mass ejections.

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Effects of the Sun on our Planet
In this activity, you can experiment with plants, light, heat, and water evaporation. Design a simple solar cooker, a "solar-powered" method to perform a routine task, or build a parabolic solar collector.
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Interview with Mr. Sol
Have you ever wondered what our star thinks about his (or her?) role up there in the sky? Have you considered what an awesome responsibility it must be, generating all that heat and light from fusion and having so many living beings depending upon you?
Sol really does light up our life. Imagine what he might say if If the movie frequently hangs with a "Buffering" message, it means the data transfer rate is slow. Try to Pause the movie, wait 20-30 minutes for data to transfer, then un-pause it. Or, try watching at a later time. (Or, possibly your internet connection is too slow).

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