Using the Web

Go to QUEST’s “Journey into the Sun” Web page ( to watch a short video on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched in 2010. Why is studying the magnetic field of the Sun so important? What is new and different in this observatory?
Go to the SDO website ( Under “Data,” select “The Sun Now” and view the Sun at many wavelengths. What activity do you observe in the images at the location of any sunspots seen in the “HMI Intensitygram” images? (You can download a free SDO App by Astra to get real-time images on your mobile device.) Look at a recent news story from SDO. What was observed, and why is it newsworthy?
Go to the mission page for an older telescope, SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory— which was launched in 1995 by NASA and ESA. Click on “The Sun Now” to see today’s images. The EIT images are in the far ultraviolet and show violent activity. How do these images differ from the ones of SDO in question 56?
Go to the mission page for the Hinode telescope (, launched in 2005 by the Japanese Space Agency and NASA. Its primary instrument is an X-ray telescope. Why is it useful to observe the Sun in X-rays?
Go to the STEREO mission’s website ( What is STEREO? Where are the spacecraft located? How does this configuration enable observations of the entire Sun at once? (You can download the App “3-D Sun” to get the latest images on your mobile device.)
Go to the Space Weather website ( Are there any solar flares today? What is the sunspot number? Is it about what you would expect for this year? (Click on “What is the sunspot number?” to see a current graph.) Are there any coronal holes today?
Go to the Solar Stormwatch website (, a Zooniverse project from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. Zooniverse projects offer an opportunity for people to contribute to science by analyzing pieces of data. Create an account for Zooniverse if you don’t already have one (you will use it again in this course). Login and click on “Spot and Track Storms” and go through the Spot and Track training exercises. You are now ready to look at some real data. Click on an image to do the classification. Save a screen shot for your homework.
Go to the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) website ( This adaptive-optics telescope under construction on Haleakala, Maui, will be the largest solar telescope. Click on “A Microscope for the Sun: the ATST Movie,” and watch the movie. Why is it important to study the magnetic field of the Sun? What are some of the advantages of studying the Sun from a ground-based telescope instead of a space-based telescope? What wavelengths does the ATST observe? Why is Maui a good location? When is the telescope scheduled to be completed?
Go to the National Ignition Facility (NIF) website ( Under “Programs,” click on “Internal Fusion Energy” and then “How to Make a Star.” How are lasers used in experiments to develop controlled nuclear fusion on Earth? How does the fusion reaction here differ from that in the Sun?
An alternative approach is to fuse 3He + 3He instead of the hydrogen isotopes. But on Earth, 3He is found in limited supply. 3He is in much greater abundance on the Moon, so some people propose setting up mining colonies on the Moon to extract 3He for fusion reactions on Earth. Do a search on “helium 3 moon.” Which countries are talking about going to the Moon for this purpose? What is the timeline for when this might happen? What are the difficulties?

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