Solar Week - Ask a Question

Come here during Solar Week (next one: March 22-26, 2021) to interact. To post a question, click on your area of interest from the topics below, and then click on the "Ask New Question" button. Or EMAIL or tweet or plant in Answer Garden your question about the Sun or life as a scientist to us -- and watch for it to appear here.  You can also visit our FAQs (frequently asked questions). In between Solar Weeks in October and March, you can view all the archives here.

PrevPrev Go to previous topic
NextNext Go to next topic
Last Post 3/21/2018 8:22 AM by  Christina Cohen
 1 Replies
You are not authorized to post a reply.
Author Messages

david c


3/21/2018 6:20 AM
    Hello, Have we ever been able to yet to observe the Sun's polar regions, and determine if sunspots occur there?

    Christina Cohen

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/21/2018 8:22 AM

    It is very hard to observe the poles of the Sun from the ecliptic plane (where most of our spacecraft and Earth are). Sometimes we get a glimpse because the Earth's orbit is tilted relative to the equator of the Sun, but not by much, only about 7°.

    The Ulysses spacecraft was the only mission to fly over the poles (or nearly so) of the Sun. Unfortunately, it did not have any imaging instrumentation on it. We did learn a lot from that mission, but there are still questions remaining. In 2019, the European Space Agency will launch Solar Orbiter which will go out of the ecliptic plane (not as high as Ulysses) and does have imaging instruments, so that will be our first really good look at the solar poles.

    No one has ever observed a sunspot at the poles of the Sun and it is rare to see them above about 40° latitude. Generally the solar poles are regions of 'open' magnetic fields (basically long lines that go kind of straight out rather than making large loops) and it is probably impossible to make a sunspot in such an environment.

    You are not authorized to post a reply.

    Twitter Feed

    Scientist Leaderboard

    Name # of replies
    Multiverse skin is based on Greytness by Adammer