With a solar viewer, pencil and paper, you can follow sunspots travelling across the face of the Sun.Occasionally the Sun has sunspots on its surface. These are areas that are cooler than the rest of the Suns surface and appear darker.The number of sunspots follows a cycle peaking every 11 years. The most recent periods of increased sunspot activity were 1989 and 2000
What to do
Photocopy the sunspot template several times to use for drawing sunspots.
Each day, at approximately the same time, use your solar viewer or a live image of the Sun on the Internet (for example, the NASA Space Weather website), to see the location and size of sunspots..
Draw these spots on a sunspot template using a grey pencil, which you can easily erase if you make a mistake..
Over a period of at least one week, you should notice that the position of each sunspot has moved..
You can combine these images to create a flicker book, or scan them into a computer and create a slideshow..
Choose two of your drawings and compare the position and shape of the sunspots. Has the shape changed? How far have they moved? The vertical lines on the template show the angle from the centre line of the Sun..
Measure the angular distance that the sunspots have moved across the Sun and determine how long it would take for them to complete one rotation. To do this divide one rotation (360 degrees) by the distance travelled and multiply it by the time it took to cover that distance. For example, if a sunspot moves 60 degrees in five days, then it would take 30 days to complete one rotation (360/60 multiplied by five)..
Calculate this value for a number of sunspots and calculate the average. Do you get close to the actual figure of 27 days?.
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