Taxonomy term


Fossil forest recorded ancient sunspots

The sun’s surface is home to dark, relatively cool blotches of high magnetic activity known as sunspots, which vary in number over a roughly 11-year cycle. In a new study in Geology, scientists found evidence of this solar cycle dating back 290 million years to the Permian Period.

05 May 2017

Cosmic suntan

An international team of astronomers recently measured the amount of light hitting Earth that comes from outside our galaxy across a broad range of wavelengths.

22 Dec 2016

Down to Earth With: Solar physicist Thomas Berger

Growing up in California during the Space Race, Thomas Berger was fascinated with aeronautics and aviation, so when he arrived at the University of California at Berkeley, physics seemed like the natural choice. After graduating with a degree in engineering physics, Berger took a job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. But he soon decided it was not for him and returned to graduate school at Stanford, where he discovered a new passion: solar physics.

09 May 2016

Does the sun trigger autoimmune disease?

For hundreds of years, humans have charted the appearance of sunspots, the changing frequency of which marks highs and lows in the sun’s 11-year solar cycle. Peaks in the solar cycle cause surges in the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth, which can lead to changes in weather and climate, and can disrupt radio signals and electrical grids. Now, researchers have found that the solar cycle may also affect human health, with cases of rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis seeming to spike in concert with solar fluctuations.
01 Nov 2015

Venus in transit to the transit

5 June 2012 - Reader Elizabeth Talley snapped an iPhone photo of an ice ring around the sun yesterday afternoon in Port Charlotte, Fla., and unexpectedly also captured this image of Venus as it heads toward this evening’s rare celestial event — a transit of the sun. The seven-hour transit, during which the planet will appear as a small black disk moving across the solar face, will begin at 6:03 p.m.

05 Jun 2012

Around the world in the Solar Taxi

We can build it. We have the technology.

One thing you can say about the Solar Taxi is that it’s eye-catching. I showed pictures of it from a press conference Wednesday to my co-worker. “Hey, I saw that on the street this morning and wondered what it was,” she says. “That’s the solar car?”

04 Sep 2008

Spot-free sun: Is that normal?

For the past few years, astronomers and scientists have been looking up at a sun that is, more often than not, rather blank. Almost too blank. That is, the sun has been relatively free of the dark patches, called “sunspots,” that appear within 30 degrees of the sun’s equator and travel across the surface. Although low sunspot counts are normal in a typical sunspot cycle, this period has gone on longer than usual, scientists noted at an international solar conference on “Solar Variability, Earth’s Climate and the Space Environment” held in early June at Montana State University in Bozeman.

28 Aug 2008

Dye-ing for efficient solar power

Solar energy is an abundant resource, but so far, solar panels have tended to be relatively expensive and less efficient than desired. Now researchers at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., may have solved both those problems by inventing a new inexpensive dye that works as a “solar concentrator” when painted on ordinary window panes. The dye gathers light energy over the entire surface of the window, then transports it out to the edge of the pane to a line of energy-collecting solar cells.

28 Aug 2008