Sun Spots

Andy G1GKN showing an Antenna Analyser and Graphic made at the Construction Day

Andy G1GKN showing an Antenna Analyser and Graphic made at the Construction Day

October is upon us and another TARG Club Night, Tom (Chairman) opened the meeting by welcoming everyone, informing the members of the success of our Crowsheath Camping/Caravanning Event, Two Tree Island and the recent Construction Day.

He then went on to remind everyone of upcoming events at the Club and introduced Peter Meadows M0ZBU who was the evening’s Guest Speaker.

Peter Meadows M0ZBU

Peter Meadows M0ZBU

Peter gave us a talk on Sun Spots, if like me you hear people talking about Solar Flares and Solar Cycles etc and wonder exactly what they are, this is the talk for you. It was great to have Peter on hand to explain it

He started by telling us the make up of the sun explaining that it is in fact a Second Generation Dwarf that is 5,000 million years old and is composed of mainly Hydrogen and Helium with other trace elements.

Peter then went on to describe the safest way to look at and monitor the sun – a very important point if you are just starting to take interest in sun spots. You can either project the image onto white paper using a sheet of paper with a pinhole in it, this technique has been around since about 1640. You can also use special solar filter. (Baarder AstroSolar Safety Film has a website.) These special filters block 99.9% of the sun light.

The largest ever recorded group of Sun Spots was in April 1947. Sun Spots have been counted/monitored every day since 1950, with the last major activity being in 2003. He also described what a sun spot actually is and explained a solar flare and how this could affect our radio transmissions on earth. This is why some radio hams monitor the suns solar cycle to determine good propagation times.

Counting Sun Spots

Counting Sun Spots

Peter then gave us a little quiz to see if we could count sun spots on some plots he had, great fun with a few differences of opinion. Sun Spots need to be at least 10o apart to count as separate spots, but by the end most people had got the hang of it.

Peter concluded his talk by telling us that there will be a Large Partial Eclipse of the Sun on Friday 20th March 2015 between 08.25 and 10.41 GMT, which should be visible from Essex, so there’s a date for you diaries.

Keeping to the theme of space we gave away a very nice telescope in our raffle, we did stress however that this could not be used for looking at the sun, unless fitted with the proper filters. Only then can the sun be observed safely.

First Prize Raffle Winner

First Prize Raffle Winner John G6SPH

Second Prize Raffle Winner

Second Prize Raffle Winner Derek M0SCE

Third Prize Raffle Winner

Third Prize Raffle Winner Barry G7KCO








TARG would like to say a big thank you to Peter Meadows for an extremely interesting talk and we look forward to seeing you at TARG again in the future.

Useful Web Links

  • British Astronomical Association –
  • ‘The Astronomer’ Magazine –
  • –
  • The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) –
  • Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) –
  • NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center –
  • Solar Observing by Peter Meadows –
  • VLF Receiver (for solar flare detection) –
  • Atmospheric phenomena (rainbows, ice halos, etc) –
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