Astronomy lab

Tuesday

Sunspot Count Project

 

    As you have learned in the solar lab the appearance of sunspots in the Sun’s photosphere are cyclic in nature. The average number of years for the cycle from minimum activity to minimum is 11.

 

    Read the Solar Cycle 24 Update document to review what the Sun has been up to during the last year or so. You will embark on a semester-long sunspot count project to track and analyze the appearance of sunspots and groups. 

 

    You have already done three example sunspot counts in the exercise portion of the lab. We can review that procedure again if you like.

 

    Here’s how the project will proceed.

 

1) While each student could visit a web site each day (images are taken regularly) to conduct a sunspot count, there is an easier alternative. On a weekly basis visit this web site: http://sohodata.nascom.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/data_query.

·      Under Image Type highlight HMI Continuum.

·      Under Resolution select 1024.

·      Under Display check off List.

·      Supply start and end dates in the required format. Click Search.

This will bring up a list of images by date and time (ex. 20130101  0100). I want each student to select the image taken at 1500 hours for each of the days in the weekly period. (That way I can more easily compare each student’s effectiveness in determining how many groups and how many spots are present.)

 

If there is no image for 1500 hours, select the next available time.  Once the image is selected from the list it will display a white light image (with yellow filter) of the Sun. Bring cursor to solar image and left click. A more detailed image will appear. The student will use this image to conduct a daily sunspot count and record the data on a spreadsheet I will provide. (Be careful about dust specs – hint, they will not rotate with the spots). The student will keep this data archived throughout the semester.

 

2) On a weekly basis, by noon each Tuesday, the student will email me their spreadsheet. The data will be collected from Tuesday to Monday. When emailing me your spreadsheet you must name it “your last name and the Monday date”, ie Huestis20130218. I will merge each student’s data with my master, then graph and compare the counts. We’ll review the results.

 

3) Submissions received after the noon deadline but before the beginning of the lab will receive half-credit for that week’s submission. Submissions received after the lab start time will be deducted the full amount for that week. See following note.

 

Important note: this semester-long sunspot count project will be treated as a lab. This project will run for 11 weeks. Each week will earn 9 points.

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