What are Sunspots?

In 1610, soon after the telescope was invented, Galileo became the first man to see spots on the sun. Through the telescope the sunspot look like dark holes in the sun’s white disc.

Sunspot may be observed on almost any clear day. They vary greatly in size. some appear like mere specks on the sun’s surface. One vary large spot was about 90,000 miles long and 60,000 miles wide. Groups of sunspot are known to measure 200,000 miles and length.

Astronomers are fairly sure that sunspot an electrical in nature because of certain effect they produce. One astronomer has shown that they are tremendous whirls of electrified matter that come bursting out from the interior of the sun in pairs like the ends of a U-shaped tunnel.

Sunspots, or their release of electrical energy, send beams of negatively charged electrons shooting into space. Some of these electrons enter the earth’s atmosphere and produce certain electrical effects. One of these effects is the "aurora borealis" (or Northern Lights).

Electrical energy from sunspot also disturbs radio transmission. These electrons also seem to increase the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere. This extra ozone may absorb more of the sun’s heat than usual, so sunspots only last a few days, but some last two months or more.

They increase in number, then diminish, in a regular cycle which runs about 21 1/5 years. Records of sunspots have now been kept for more than 100 years and we are still learning about what they are and how they affect us.

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