The Sun

First of all DON'T LOOK AT THE SUN with out a filter made for THE FRONT of your telescope for viewing the sun. Second of all DON'T LOOK AT THE SUN with any finder scope. THIS IS IMPORTANT AND I CAN NOT EMPHASIZE IT ENOUGH! With out a proper filter you can BURN out you eye or a burn a spot on your retina in less than a heart beat. But if you have purchased a solar filter made for the front of your telescope you can see up close the nearest star, our sun. To find the sun in your telescope (it is not as easy as it seems) you align the telescope using its shadow until you get the shadow as short as possible in all directions. Then you use your lowest power eye piece to center the Sun the rest of the way (it takes some practice).As the Sun is responsiable for the weather here on Earth it is also responsiable for the weather in our Solar system.

Our Sun is just an average star

Its Size 1,392,000 km diameter which equals 109 Earth diameters. It also equals 9.7 Jupiter diameters. That makes it the largest and most massive thing in solar system! (333,000 Earth masses or 1046 Jupiter masses)

The Sun's Composition

A spectroscope will show that Hydrogen is about 94% of the solar material, Helium is about 6% of the sun, and all the other elements make up 0.13%, with Oxygen, Carbon, and Nitrogen the three most abundant elements'-they make up 0.11%, traces of Neon, Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Potassium, and Iron make up the rest

Dissection of the Sun


innermost 10% of the Sun's mass. Where energy is generated. 16 million degrees HOT
Radiative zone

includes core. Energy is transported from the superhot interior to the colder outer layers by photons. Makes up most of the sun's radius.
Convective zone
The outer 15% of sun's radius. At cooler temperatures convection currents transport energy . .


The visiable surface of sun, about 5800K .

The Suns Atmosphere


The pinkish outer layer 2000-3000 km thick. .


A very high temperature, (1-2 million degrees Kelvin!) and very thin gas. It is the pearly white color seen in eclipses. .

Solar wind

fast moving ions escape sun's gravitational attraction and move outward at 100's km/sec.

What can be found on the Sun


are cooler regions on sun (1000-1500 K cooler) so look darker. They last few days to few months. They are regions of strong magnetic field. The number of sunspots varies over 11 year cycle.


(to small to show on graph) are bright spots of convection 700-1000 km across forming honeycomb pattern. Hot rising gas in middle of granule and cooler falling gas on border (convection). One granule can last about 8 minutes.


bright clouds of corona gas forming over sunspots.
Quiet Prominences are about 40,000 km high, corona gas falling back to photosphere. Sometimes see them looking like loops (remember that magnetic field lines loop). They can last few months to one year.
Surge Prominences have material erupting from photosphere shooting material up to 300,000 km above photosphere. Move along magnetic field lines.

Solar flares

are even more extreme than surge prominences. Last only few minutes-hours. Lots of ions ejected. Interfere with radio communication. Sometimes cause voltage pulses/surges in power and telephone lines.

Return to WhataSee.

Page maintained by Dan Murry. Created: February 16 ,1996 Updated: 5/16/2005 at 6:44:31 PM