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  what do sunspots look like?
  how are sunspots formed?
  how big are sunspots?
  who first spotted sunspots?
  how fast does the Sun spin?
  cycling sunspots
  solar activity cycle
  where do sunspots appear?
  can sunspots harm us?

where do sunspots appear?


Do sunspots appear anywhere on the Sun? No they don’t! Their positions follow a pattern during the solar cycle.

Sunspot Grid

Take a look at this image. It shows the Sun’s equatormouse over arrow, north pole mouse over arrow, south pole mouse over arrow, and lines of longitudemouse over arrow and latitudemouse over arrow .


Surprisingly, almost all sunspots are found in two bands on the Sun, just north and south of the equator. At the start of the cycle, the sunspots appear at latitudes of about 30 degrees, both north and south of the equator.


Then, as the cycle continues, more appear at lower latitudes until, at the end of the cycle, most spots appear near the equator.


If you plot each sunspot's latitude (Y-axis) against the date when it first appeared (X-axis) you get the diagram below

Sunspots butterfly graph

This is called the sunspot butterfly diagram. Can you see why? It shows the very strange effect that as the solar cycle progresses the sunspots appear on the surface closer and closer to the equator. Why? We'd love to know. Although it's something to do with how the Sun's magnetic field changes during the solar cycle, we have yet to find a complete and detailed answer. That's what makes doing science so interesting.


No matter how much we know already, there are always new mysteries to solve!




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