home > for educators
Sunspots >history worksheet answers
Dawn of Sun Science Answer Key
- 1. Among the Inca, Maya and Aztec cultures which one do you think had
observed sunspots? What is
- According to Aztec myth, the god who
sacrificed himself to become the Sun had a spotted, pimply face, which
suggests that the Aztecs had observed spots on the Sun.
- 2. Why did most ancient cultures
revere the Sun as a god?
- People in agrarian societies could
see that their crops grew and flourished, or failed, according to whether
there was the right amount of sunlight. They probably also learned to correlate
the appearance of the Sun in certain positions in the sky with generally
warmer or colder weather, which also affected their food supply and when
they planned to plant and harvest. The sun's influence on the weather, and
seasons, may have been interpreted as godlike abilities.
- 3. Who made the oldest known
Eurasian records of the surface of the Sun?
- There are some early references to
sunspots in the writings of Greek philosophers from the fourth century BCE.
Chinese astronomers observed cycles
of small dark blotches on the Sun as early as 28 BCE.
- 4. Why did the
idea of blemishes or spots on the Sun puzzle the Europeans of
the 17th century?
- People continued to
believe, as Aristotle had assumed, that the heavens must be
"perfect" and spots on the Sun seemed to them like an imperfection
in God's creation.
- 5. What kind of
radiation from the Sun can severely burn your eyes and permanently damage
- Ultraviolet light,
which penetrates the atmosphere in sufficient quantities to burn the retina.
- 6. Why is the
year 1608 important for astronomy?
- This was the year
that the telescope was introduced and first used to look at the skies.
- 7. Why did
Galileo conclude that the sunspots must be on the surface of the Sun?
- He observed that the
spots seem to flatten as they get near the Sun's edge. He deduced this was
an effect of foreshortening as the spots rotated with the solar surface.
- 8. Who argued
that the "spots" must be planets or moons orbiting the sun? Why?
Schiener was another astronomer of Galileo's time. Schiener believed
that spots on the Sun would be a sign of imperfection. Therefore he
argued strongly that the blotches seen through telescopes must be
planets or moons orbiting the Sun.
- 9. Why did
Galileo spend the last 8 years of his life under house arrest?
- Galileo was arrested
and charged with heresy for publication of the Dialog, which supported the Copernican theory that
the Sun is at the
center of the solar system. He was considered so "dangerous" by the Catholic
Church that he was imprisoned in his home and was not allowed to collaborate
with others on scientific matters or to publish his ideas. (In fact, he recanted, or
publicly withdrew, these beliefs in order to lessen his sentence. He also
wanted very much to reconcile his science with his own religious beliefs.)
ęCopyright 2001 Regents of the University of California.