The Sun as seen by SOHO

SOHO is the acronym for Solar Orbiting Heliospheric Observatory, a cooperative project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The SOHO probe is currently are most productive and best source of informtion about the Sun and solar events. One of the unique things about SOHO is the volume of data that it can (and has collected: it runs 24/7, and it records via a range of observational tools - the result is that the SOHO archive of images, movies, and other data on the Sun is simply enormous.

What I want you to do is access the SOHO pages through the NASA webpage:

(, as opposed to doing a broad search. This approach to searching, the Library equivalent of "reading reference lists", can be a very quick and convenient way to find relevant information on the Web, if you have some constraints on what you want to know, and the quality of the data you wish to retrieve.


  1. Open up your web browser.
  2. In the address box at the top, type, and hit return. This will bring you to the NASA Website. There are SOHO links in several directions here, but the most straightforward place to look is under the Multimedia Gallery. Have a hunt around - you'll find lots of cool stuff here!

Once you're in the SOHO pages, look around for the following:

  1. We don't look at ALL the light from the Sun, but only certain key wavelengths, which correspond to wavelengths in the optical spectra of a few chemical elements. Browse through the solar images that SOHO has taken and list for me the major wavelengths/elements that they are looking at. Why, do you think, did they pick these particular ones?
  2. What sorts of data does SOHO collect to study the Solar magnetic field? List a couple, and links to examples.
  3. Search around for SOHO data sources for sunspots, solar prominences, and coronal mass ejections. Do they keep a current count of sunspots? If so, what was it on the day you looked? (note the date).
  4. Browse out from SOHO to find some other sources of data on the Sun - where else are they studying it, and what are they looking at?

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