Home Store Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

Counting Sunspots on an Image of the Sun *

Difficulty
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Before You Start: The sun has periods of increased, solar maximum, and decreased, solar minimum, sunspot activity. This 11-year cycle has effects on many types of space weather. Before starting this experiment you should read a bit about the sunspot cycle and determine where we currently are in the cycle. During a solar minimum you may need to rely on historical data (which we tell you how to obtain in the Experimental Procedure) to complete this project.

Make a pinhole projector (see Measuring the Diameter of the Sun and the Moon). Use the pinhole to project an image of the Sun onto a wall or a piece of paper. Do you notice any dark spots on the projected image? Trace the projected image and count the dark spots. Use your pinhole projector to make images of the Sun at the same time of day for several consecutive days. How does the pattern of spots change? Can you use your data to figure out how fast the Sun rotates? Sunspot activity rises and falls with an 11-year cycle. At this writing (summer, 2006), sunspot activity is at a low point in the cycle, so you may not see any sunspots. You can use satellite images of the Sun for this project instead. See the Science Buddies project Using the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO) to Determine the Rotation of the Sun. For another sunspot-related project, see: Sunspot Cycles. Important Safety Note: Never, ever look directly at the Sun. You can permanently damage your eyes.

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Counting Sunspots on an Image of the Sun" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 1 Sep. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Astro_p027.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Counting Sunspots on an Image of the Sun. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Astro_p027.shtml

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.


Last edit date: 2014-06-30

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

NASA astronomer

Astronomer

Astronomers think big! They want to understand the entire universe—the nature of the Sun, Moon, planets, stars, galaxies, and everything in between. An astronomer's work can be pure science—gathering and analyzing data from instruments and creating theories about the nature of cosmic objects—or the work can be applied to practical problems in space flight and navigation, or satellite communications. Read more
Girl editing video

Film and Video Editor

Lights, camera, action! It takes more than actors to put an exciting motion picture movie together. It takes film and video editors and cutting-edge computer technology to make an exciting movie that people want to see. From the many thousands of minutes of film and video, the editor has to choose the best shots to tell a cohesive and compelling story. In addition to having an artistic bent, the film and video editor must relish working with complicated computer equipment. If you would like to combine your artistic talents and your computer skills into a great career, then read on to learn more about film and video editors. Read more

Looking for more science fun?

Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.

Find an Activity