Shop Windows to the Universe

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather by Mike Smith tells the story of our storm warning system. See our online store book collection.
Schematic view of the inner structure of the Sun
Click on image for full size

The Sun and the Solar Atmosphere

Scientists have named the parts of the Sun. The "surface" of the Sun is called the photosphere. The three areas inside the Sun are called the core, the radiation zone, and the convection zone. You can see these parts on the picture to the left.

The Sun has an atmosphere just like Earth. The Sun's atmosphere is the part that goes out from the "surface" into space. The Sun's atmosphere is much bigger than Earth's though - it goes all the way out past Pluto!

The Sun is a changing star. It has spots on it that change. They are called sunspots. The Sun also shoots forth material sometimes. Some of these explosions look like loops and some look like streamers shooting out into space.

There is also a solar wind that comes from the Sun. It carries with it a magnetic force from the Sun. This force has an effect on planets and moons through the Solar System.

Last modified August 28, 2008 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Photosphere - the "Surface" of the Sun

Most of the energy we receive from the Sun is the visible (white) light emitted from the photosphere. The photosphere is one of the coolest regions of the Sun (6000 K), so only a small fraction (0.1%)...more

The Solar Core

The center of the Sun is called the core. The core is made up of a really hot gas (in the plasma state). The temperature in the core is 15 million kelvins ! That's REALLY HOT! The core is where the energy...more


Sunspots are dark spots on the Sun. They may look small, but they are actually as big as a planet like Earth or Mars! Sunspots are "dark" because they are colder than the areas around them. Of course,...more

Solar Prominence

Text for this level has not been written yet. Please see the "Intermediate" text for this page if you want to learn about this topic. To get to the "Intermediate" text, click on the blue "Intermediate"...more

Space Weather throughout the Solar System

The Sun is huge. It has an effect on things even if they are far from the Sun. The "bubble" where the Sun has an effect on things is called the heliosphere. It goes even past Pluto! The place...more

Space Weather at Earth

Did you know that the Earth has a magnetic field? It's almost as if a giant bar magnet ran through our planet. The magnetic field of the Earth is like a huge bubble around our planet. This bubble keeps...more

Space Weather Effects on Pipelines

Pipelines for transporting oil, natural gas, and water are often made of conducting materials like steel. Very long pipelines (thousands of kilometers/miles) are used to transport oil and gas at high latitudes,...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA