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  what do sunspots look like?
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who first spotted sunspots?


Several thousand years ago, Chinese astronomers reported seeing sunspots. They didn't have telescopes, but when looking through fog or the smoke from forest fires, they noticed that the Sun had very small, dark dots on it.


However, it was not until the invention of the telescope that it was possible to study sunspots in detail. The first telescopic observations were made by Galileo and Harriot in 1610.

1st Who was Thomas Harriot?

A newspaper of 1611 might have ‘covered’ the story of Galileo’s discovery like this...

Newspaper report "The Sun has spots"  

How did Galileo and Harriot use a telescope to see the Sun? - They projected an image onto a sheet of paper


Galileo's astronomical ideas got him into trouble with church leaders and he was kept prisoner in his house near Florence until he died. His 'crime' was to suggest that the
Earth was not the centre of the universe. We now know that he was right, but the Catholic Church didn't pardon him until 1992, nearly 400 years later. Another of his 'crimes' was to suggest that the Sun was not perfect, but had spots!


Galileo watched the sunspots carefully and saw that they appeared, disappeared and changed their shapes so he knew they could not possibly be planets just passing in front of the Sun.


You can see one of Galileo's first drawings of sunspots in this newspaper article.




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