This Digi Kit was created with the support of a subcontract from the NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium to Temple University and the AAPT under NASA Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number NXX16AR36A. The goal of this Digi Kit is to promote interdisciplinary exploration that integrates physics with space science in a format that blends modeling, analysis of authentic data, and pattern recognition in a large-scale system. The Digi Kit features the following original materials:

  • Lecture Tutorial with comprehensive Teacher's Guide, co-authored by R. Lopez, J. Bailey, S. Willoughby, and R. Vieyra
  • Background information, "Frames of Reference in the Earth/Sun System", written by plasma physicist David Straw

The Sunspot Science Digi Kit was inspired by an article in The Physics Teacher magazine: "Teaching Astronomy Using Tracker", by Mario Belloni, Wolfgang Christian, and Douglas Brown. Click Here to view the abstract page for this article. 

The Sunspot Digi Kit curated collection includes links to the following resources:

  • Image sets showing images of the sun in different wavelengths
  • Simulations of sunspot tracking, periodic motion, and sidereal day
  • Videos of solar rotation, magnetic field activity on the sun, and sunspot formation
  • Links to two competing theories of how sunspots are formed
  • Link to free NASA poster, "How Space Weather and Solar Storms Affect Earth"
  • NASA Primer on the solar cycle
  • "Introduction to the Sun's Magnetic Field" by the European Space Agency
  • History of Sunspots, a free digital exhibit from the Exploratorium Museum
  • In-depth digital collection on Galileo's contributions to sunspot science
  • Free student tutorials in wave properties, specifically frequency and period
  • Graphs and diagrams showing solar maxima/minima, Butterfly Effect, and ecliptic plane of sun/planets
  • Two additional complete lessons on using SOHO images to track sunspots
  • Extension activity for gifted/talented or learners with high interest: "Differential Rotation of the Sun and Its Chromosphere"

AAPT Digi Kits are curated, edited, and annotated by Caroline Hall, managing editor and eBook collection developer for the AAPT. Please contact with questions, suggestions, or to report errors.

Relevant Links:

ComPADRE Digital Libraries in Physics and Astronomy

AAPT Digi Kits Collection

Special thanks go out to the following people and organizations:

  • The NASA-SSEC Team
  • David Straw, PhD, subject matter expert for the AAPT Digi Kits Project
  • Todd Timberlake, PhD, for his simulation, "Galileo Sunspots" and "Naked Eye Sidereal and Solar Day JS Model" 
  • Big Bear Solar Observatory for its sunspot videos
  • Solar Dynamics Observatory for its videos, "One-Month Solar Rotation" and "How SDO Sees the Sun"
  • Sarah Frazier, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, for her article, "Understanding the Magnetic Sun"
  • European Space Agency, for its classroom activity, "Differential Rotation of the Sun and Its Chromosphere"
  • Science NetLinks, for its classroom lesson, "Tracking the Movement of Sunspots"
  • NASA-SOHO for its classroom exercise, "Tracking Sunspots Using real data from SOHO"
  • The PhET Project, for its simulation titled, "Pendulum Lab"
  • Karen C. Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, for her tutorial, "Solar Cycle Primer"
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for its educational website, "Space Weather Phenomena"
  • Christopher Crockett, PhD, for his article, "What Is the Ecliptic?"
  • Exploratorium Museum for its "Sunspot History" 
  • Rice University for "The Galileo Project"
  • NASA Earth Observatory, for its multimedia resource, "What Exactly Is A Sunspot?"
  • for its article titled,"Mechanisms of explosions and plasma jets associated with sunspot formation revealed", based on research by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, published by S. Toriumi, Y. Katsukawa, and M. Cheung
  • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and Aalto University, for their article, "Supercomputer can shed light on sunspot formation", based on research by P. Kapyla, M. Kapyla, N. Singh, J. Warnecke, and A. Brandenburg
  • ESA CESAR Project, for its free-access textbook, "General Understanding of the Sun"
  • Tom Henderson, author/developer of The Physics Classroom for his "Frequency & Period of a Wave"