Sunspot Counting:

My solar report to the AAVSO - A Completed Great Canadian Observing Challenge

Richard Huziak <huziak@SEDSYSTEMS.CA>

Posted on the RASClist, Wed, 4 Jun 2003

I'm pleased to announce that I've now fully completed a Great Canadian Observing Challenge given to me by Paul Campbell of the Edmonton Centre. In exchange for his submission of variable star estimates, which he does regularly now, he asked me to include "Sunspot Counting" as a "bullet" within my "List of Projects that can be done under less than pristine skies", along with double stars, lunar observing, planets,

occultations, etc. I did indeed include Sunspot Counting as a bullet in my Power-point presentation that I gave to the Winnipeg Centre in March on the GCOC.

However, I figured, why stop there? Why not actually *DO* some sunspot counts (I used to do them all the time), and actually REPORT these to the AAVSO Solar Division, since this is yet another example of how easy it is to turn "casual observing" into "useful science". This morning, I submitted my first official AAVSO Solar Division Report for May 2003, shown below. Only two days, but it's a start :-)

********* SUNKEY 06-03-2003 19:25:18

Solar data from: HUZR




S7J 0A2

For the month of: MAY 2003

| Day | see | UT | g | s | W | ng | sg | ns | ss | Obs. |


12 E 2312 5 23 73 2 3 8 15 | HUZR |

19 E 2309 7 41 111 1 6 1 40 | HUZR |

If you are going to count sunspots, you MIGHT AS WELL REPORT YOUR COUNTS! Easy, easy, easy! The AAVSO has an excellent web page on the Solar Division, and the administrator, Carl, is a really nice guy. Met him in Tucson this April.

There is also easy-to-use utility software to format your report, called "Sunkey" or "Solobs". There is also a useful utility that plots the blank sun for you c/w equator, etc. called "Spotplot.exe" and much more!

One thing to note is that your AAVSO initials are different for solar than the are for variables stars (solar = HUZR, varstar = HUZ for me), so you simply ask Carl to reassign you your solar initials and he comes through!

The counts are easy - you enter day in UT, seeing (excellent, OK, poor, etc), number of groups, number of spots, Wolf number (( #groups *10)+ #spots), no of groups and spots in the north and south hemispheres. It's all explained on the web-site. Easy! I see everyone showing off their Bader filters at star parties. Each of those could become a legitimate spot count that is reported! Not much else to do during the day at most star parties! I do my counts from my in-the-city backyard BEFORE I have my summer beer! And even Toronto light pollution has trouble drowning out the sun!

Remember to record your observations in a log book! They may be useful to someone else, too, one day!