Notes for Group Leaders: Colors of the Sun

Activity 2:  Colors of the Sun Activity
Overview of Activity

The activity starts with a series of illustrative examples that lead into the main goal of building your own filter wheel.  Students then learn that the sun can look very different depending on how you look at it.  Lastly, students relate their hand-made filter wheels to real filters on solar telescopes.

Age Level
Ages 10 and up

Materials Needed
Filter Wheel:
* Two sturdy paper plates
* One piece of blue cellophane (approx. 6 inches x 6 inches)
* One piece of red cellophane (approx. 6 inches x 6 inches)
* One piece of yellow cellophane (approx. 6 inches x 6 inches) (cellophane can be found in the craft section of most stores)
* One brass "thumbtack-like" fastener
* An exacto knife or sharp scissors
* Clear tape
* A pencil
Crab nebula example:
* A set of colored pencils, crayons or markers
* A filter wheel
* A color printout of the crab nebula image above
* A color computer screen showing the Crab Nebula.
* Blank paper

Pre-requisite Knowledge Needed

Important Information
Do not use this filter wheel to look at the sun. You should never look directly at the sun without protection.  This filter wheel is NOT for viewing the sun.

Useful Links
Eyes on the Skies : A web-site which allows YOU to robotically control a solar telescope, courtesy of the Tri-valley Stargazers Astronomy Club of Livermore, California.

Electromagnetic Spectrum : Demonstrates wavelength and other properties of different wavelengths of visible light. From the University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Observing Objects in Space : A look at how astronomers observe light of different kinds from astronomical objects.

The Yohkoh spacecraft : A quick glimpse of the instruments on-board the Yohkoh spacecraft, which look at x-ray radiation from the Sun.

The Transition Region and Coronal Explorer Spacecraft : The TRACE instrument provides high resolution images of the Sun at ultra-violet and extreme-ultraviolet wavelengths.

Big Bear Solar Observatory : The BBSO provides images of the Sun in ordinary visible light as well as in the red-light of Hydrogen alpha.

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