Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yale-Peabody Astronomy--Day 2, Part 1: Sunspots

My head is spinning!  We learned so much today...lectures on gravity, the Sun, meteorites and meteors! Okay, one topic at a time:  Sunspots.
This is the sunspotter tool that we used today.

Today, we got a chance to practice using a Sunspotter telescope.  An ingenious tool to safely view sunspots on the surface of the sun.  The Peabody Museum has purchased a supply of these tools and as part of the Fellowship, we can borrow them for about 1 month to do sunspot investigations with our students.  You can purchase one here.  Charting sunspot locations over a period of time can be used to show that the Sun rotates, and can be used to discover the direction of rotation of the Sun.  One interesting thing that I noticed, was that the Sun moved out of the field of view unbelievably quickly!  Every couple of minutes, the Earth would rotate enough so that the image of the Sun was completely off of the viewing platform.

I was quite surprised by this, and Dr. Michael Faison, astronomy professor and Director of the Leitner Observatory and Planetarium at Yale confirmed that the Sun's apparent motion is one solar diameter approximately every 2 minutes!  Fascinating!

Right here,  you can see today's image of the Sun from  In the image, you can see many sunspots.  When we were using the Sunspotter, we could see 4 of the largest of them.

A visible light image of the sunspots from


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