Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunspots are not dark and they are not spots

Using his telescope Galileo saw sunspots . This changed an assumption that the Sun was "perfect." His observations also damaged his eyes.

Sunspots are not actually dark. These patches of "magnetic storms" are just cooler then the sun's very hot surface. Thus they appear dark.

The best way to see them for most people with out telescopes and the right filters to block out the glare is a orbiting telescope called SOHO. At the SOHO website

you can click on the sunspot area and see a huge current sunspot.

Over time you will see the sunspot(s) move towards the right.
What does that mean?

( Students will look at the sunspots and compare their size to that of Earth's and Jupiter's size.
( Students will draw conclusion about the Sun's temperature compared to the surface of the Sun and what the Sun does over time (which is like what happens to the Earth every day).

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