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In Galileo's Footsteps
(Teacher Lesson Plan)
Tracking Sunspots (grades 5-8)
Time: 5 to 10 minutes per day for five days
Introduction: In this activity, we will make observations similar to those of Bernedetto Castelli and Galileo Galilei but instead of projecting an image of the Sun onto paper, we will use photos from Big Bear Solar Observatory (http://www.bbso.njit.edu).
Objective: to observe sunspots and make inferences about solar rotation. Students will study images of the sun for five days (with the archived data, you could do this for a maximum of ten days), looking for day-to-day changes of sunspot position on the disk of the sun. This exercise may be performed by the whole class or, if you wish, students can work in small groups or pairs. Charting is done by marking the position of the sunspots on a piece of transparency material which will overlay the image of the Sun.
A minimum of 6 pieces of transparency material (there are 10 images provided in the archive, so a maximum of 11 pieces of transparency material), five for the white light images and 1 for charting,
Internet access, to download the images provided on this web page or, download an image per day from the Big Bear Solar Observatory ( http://www.bbso.njit.edu/cgi-bin/LatestImages ). Be aware though, there may be days with no data, since the Big Bear Observatory is subject to Earth's weather.
A grease pencil or transparency marker,