Museum

Sunspotter

Never look through binoculars at the sun. Never look directly at the sun.

The Sunspotter uses lenses and mirrors to show a projection of the sun’s image so you can safely look at the sun. It gives students the chance to gather data about the sun like scientists have throughout the centuries. Students can predict how the sun will look, observe how sunspots change over time, and draw their observations. Track sunspots as a class and learn how scientists who study the aurora use solar flares to predict the northern lights. The Sunspotter can be borrowed from the UA Museum of the North here and includes a booklet of activity ideas.

Observe the sun over time like Galileo did! Set up your Sunspotter or grab your pinhole viewer and make a daily sketch of the face of the sun. You can use this sun map grid sheet to help place the sunspots. Make sure to record the date and time.

You can also learn to build one yourself! Watch this video from Boy's Life Magazine on how to make a shoebox Sunspot Viewer. This pinhole viewer is a personal viewer only one person can look through at one time.

The larger Sunspotter viewer might be a better option for a group to sit around the screen and draw their observations. This activity from Cultural Connections goes with the Sunspotter and can be used with either viewer. Here's an activity from the Sunspotter creators that can also double as a table sign. You can build a Sunspotter for your group with a pair of binoculars and cardboard. Watch the video from the Geophysical Institute that goes with this instructional diagram:


Image credit: Cultural Connections kit Middle School Guide


This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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