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  on and around the solar surface
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  how thick is the solar surface?
  the turbulent photosphere
  the sphere of colour - chromosphere
  prominences are 'cool'
  giant eruptions from the Sun

on and around the solar surface



Danielle here! The Sun is a hot ball of gas and plasma. It doesn’t have a hard surface like the Earth so what does it mean to say the ‘surface of the Sun’? It simply means the part of the Sun we can normally see in visible light. Here's a photograph of the Sun in visible light. This is the kind of view Galileo would have had about 400 years ago when he made the first observations with a telescope.


The solar surface is called the photosphere.

The solar disk in white light

If we take a closer look at the photosphere, away from any sunspots, we see that the surface of the Sun is in turmoil. Here’s a close up of the photosphere. mouse over arrow

What does photosphere mean? - The solar surface is called the photosphere from the Greek word 'Photo' for 'light'
Sun with pimple

When we use a special camera to take a picture of the Sun in visible light, like the one above, we’re actually taking a picture of the photosphere. The first thing that strikes you in such a photograph is the dark spots - known as sunspots. Here is a close up picture of a sunspot mouse over arrow. See how big it is compared to the Earth.

Never look directly at the Sun - Never look at the Sun through a camera, binoculars or a telescope either. You could really damage your eyes.

To learn more about sunspots, join Andrew and Keith on their solar adventure

  How did Galileo see the Sun with his telescope? - He projected the Sun's image onto a piece of paper.



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