How many sunspots can the Sun have at once?
Hi i am doing a report for my 6 grade science class. I was wondering if you could answer the following questions?
Is there a limit to how many sunspots the sun could get?
How long does a sunspot stay on?
Sunspots come in pairs. One is like the North pole of a magnet and the other like the South pole. They are often also arranged in groups. Scientists count the number of subspots using a "sunspot number" which takes into account the resolution of your telescope and other factors which might impact the number of sunspots a given observer would count on the Sun. This is explained further at spaceweather.com which also gives a daily update of the sunspot number and pictures of the disk of the Sun. The largest sunspot number recorded seems to be about 200, which means (roughly) that you would have seen about 14 individual sunspots using a moderate sized telescope to project an image of the Sun. When I answered this question for the first time in October 2000 the sunspot number was 127 (October 7th 2000) according to www.sunspotcycle.com (website now appears to not be updated). As I said above the numbers vary on about an 11 year cycle, and in Oct 2000 we happened to be quite near the time when there are the largest numbers seen. Updating this answer on 31st Oct 2005, 5 years later, we are close to solar minimum and today's sunspot number is 14. Indeed I can see only a single pair of sunspots on todays picture of the Sun at www.spaceweather.com
Sunspots typically last for several days, although very large ones can last for several weeks.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 25034 times since September 27, 2002.
Last modified: October 31, 2005 11:19:46 AM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)