Monday, January 20, 2020
US flag

Sunspot moved from where it was 3 days ago

Because we couldn’t see the sunspot that was so prominent a few days ago, we decided to take our telescope out to get a closer look. The sunspot we saw three days ago was much closer to the center of the sun’s disk than the one we saw today, leading us to hypothesize that a new sunspot has appeared, nine days ahead of the US eclipse on August 21, and the one we saw a few days ago has disappeared.


The sun on a windy day, noting a sunspot, noon MDT today, 6" Newtonian reflector, f/9.2

But that would be a hasty and ill-advised hypothesis. The sun rotates, so it’s possible—even likely, in fact—that the sunspot we are looking at today is the very same sunspot we saw a few days ago much closer to the center of the sun’s disk. We have this from CalTech:

Yes, the Sun does spin, or rotate. Because it is a gas, it does not rotate like a solid. The Sun actually spins faster at its equator than at its poles. The Sun rotates once every 24 days at its equator, but only once every 35 near its poles. We know this by watching the motion of sunspots and other solar features move across the Sun. The giant gas planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, also spin faster at their equators than at their poles.

As a result of the sun’s rotation, we don’t really know if this is a new sunspot or just the old one in a new place. After all, we didn’t follow it every step of the way.

(The 3:00 position of the old one compared to the 11:00 position of the one today is insignificant, since we can’t really confirm what angle the camera was pointing without a better frame of reference, which we don’t have.)

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.