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Monitoring and Modeling Space Weather

   How do we know what kind of "weather" we're having in space? Scientists use a network of ground-based observatories combined with satellite-based instruments to monitor solar activity, measure magnetic fields, and detect many types of radiation. They also use complex computer models to help predict the ebb and flow of space weather systems.
Sunspots don't look that big when you see them on the Sun (remember NEVER look directly at the Sun), but in fact they can be enormous!  This composite image shows just how big sunspots can be, to scale with an image of Earth.  Sunspots can be as big, or bigger, than Earth.  The <a href="/sun/activity/sunspot_history.html&dev=1">earliest written record of a sunspot observation</a> was made by Chinese astronomers around 800 B.C.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Windows to the Universe using images from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (sunspot image) and NASA (Earth image).</em></small></p>

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF