Tracking an Active Sunspot Region

An activity adapted from Rice University-Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, Summer Solar Institute, Being a Solar Astronomer

Type of Lesson: Investigation with evaluation worksheet

Time Needed: 45 minutes (longer if students have not completed the Plotting Sunpot activity)

Standards Addressed

MEGOSE ES5 Describe and explain common observations of the day and night skies.
MEGOSE ES7 Compare our sun to other stars and star systems.
MEGOSE ES8 Explain common observations of the day and night sky.

Quick Summary of Lesson

The student will be able to plot the location of a single active region (AR) for 12 days. The student will be able to track an AR as it moves across the face of the Sun.


student activity sheet (found below)


1. If they haven't already, students will need to complete the Plotting Sunpot activity to acquire background skills.

2. Now move on to this activity specifically. Have students print out and complete the Student Activity sheet (located below).

Student Activity Sheet

Please click here for student activity sheets. All activities on the Windows to the Universe site may be printed and reproduced if being used for educational purposes.

Notes to the Teacher

The Sun rotates on its axis. This rotation is faster at the equator than at the poles. The Sun will make a complete rotation in about 28 days at the equator and 37 days at the poles. Therefore, sunspots at the equator rotate across the face of the Sun in about 14 days. AR7220 moves westward 10-14 degrees each day. The average it moves turns out to be very close to 13 degrees each day. So after 12 days, AR7216 should be at approximately 81 degrees west.

Need More Information? Try Using Windows to the Universe

Please use these links for further ideas or more information:
Graphing Sunspot Cycles another classroom activity
The Photosphere
Plotting Sunspots another classroom activity
Solar Activity
The Solar Cycle
The Sun