WARNING! The Sun is extremely dangerous. Looking at it
with any sort of optical aid will result in instant blindness.
Look here to see how I do it.
|Sunspots and Active Regions are numbered by the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and started on 5th January 1972. These numbers now exceed 10000 but often the leading "10" is omitted. The designations of current sunspots can be found on the SOHO site. A most useful archive of diagrams of the Sun showing the positions and designations of sunspots on a daily basis right back to January 1992 is available from The Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii. This link will take you to their archive page from where you can select a given image by date or browse by month. I find this particularly useful if I have imaged an interesting spot after some days of cloud, and I can look back and see when the spot appeared.|
During 2004 the Sun was supposed to be on the decline of the 11-year sunspot cycle
(which peaked about 2001). However during June and August there were some very big spots at least one of
which survived a complete rotation of the Sun. Sunspots that do this are given a new number when they reappear over
the western limb but, now that it is possible to track spots on the far side of the Sun, we can be reasonably sure
that spot number 10656 was spot 10649 coming round again. Being summer time here in the UK, I was able to get quite a
few pictures; those of the whole Sun are shown below, pictures of the spots are shown on a separate page. Home
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During 2004 I was able to take pictures of several sunspots daily and watch
how they changed from day to day. So I have gathered the pictures of spots onto a separate
page where you can see these changes. Click on this thumbnail or the one at the bottom of the
During early November 2004 there were two naked-eye (with protection of course) sunspot groups
on the Sun. My skies did not clear until the afternoon and these pictures were made at about
14:30 UT (and local time) when the Sun was only 12° above the horizon.
Images of the Sun taken during the period 20th to 25th August 2004.
I managed to image to Sun almost daily from 13th July to 17 August 2004. This is an animation (speeded up
about 170,000 times) of the Sun over that period.
Warning clicking on this thumbnail will download a 1100 K file
This picture was taken on 13th July 2004. The activity appears to be increasing again.
Scientists can now detect sunspots on the far side of the Sun, and a big one is predicted to come into direct view on 17th July, so Group 10649 in this picture is not it.
The Sun is on the downward side of its 11-year sunspot cycle but that doesn't mean
there are no spots to see. This picture was taken on 21st June 2004 and the two big groups which became visible
on 16th June have moved across as the Sun rotates.
As the Sun rotates, we see the last of Group 10634, and Group 10635 won't be there much longer.
It is unlikely they will return round the western limb in a recognisable form. Even if they do, they will get
new designations. These pictures were taken on 25th June 2004.
This picture was taken on 16th June 2004, only eight days after the transit of Venus.
What a pity these spots had not been there during that event. The only spot that was there a week earlier was
the very insignificant spot number 631. These numbers are given by NOAA (see above for more details)
and I have omitted the leading 10 for clarity.
See my Sunspot page for a closeup of spots 634 and 635
The Sun on 7th February 2004.
Click on the image for pictures of sunspots in 2004.
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