This page introduces the section on the Sun in "From Stargazers to Starships"; for an older, longer introduction (especially for teachers), click here.
The Sun is of course essential to life on Earth, and its study involves most branches of science. To geophysics, it is the source of our climate and weather, subjects discussed in some detail in the first 3 sections, covering ways our atmosphere receives and loses heat, the greenhouse effect, global circulation of winds, thunderstorms and much more.
The Sun's visible surface features large scale magnetic phenomena--sunspots--rising and falling in an 11-year cycle and sometimes violently erupting. That surface is discussed in sections (S-2) and (S-3), with a graphic exercise on interplanetary magnetic field lines in (S-3A).
The different colors and wavelength regions of sunlight tell much about the Sun, though reading that message requires a better understanding of the nature of light. That is discussed in sections (S-4) to (S-6).
To understand the Sun's energy source, some nuclear physics must be brought in. That is done in (S-7), with related discussions of energy generation in other stars and their final destinies. One such outcome is a black hole. and the one at the center of our galaxy is discussed in (S-7a). Nuclear physics brings in subjects of commercial nuclear power, nuclear weapons and the history of how atoms and nuclei were discovered, all in sections (S-8), (S-9), supplemented by a short course on nuclear energy, with problems, written for a project of the State of Virginia.
Brief optional sections were added during the writing of the lesson plans: on the three-color theory of vision (#S-4A; an easier approach was later found and is cited), on the interplanetary magnetic field (#S-6A) and on the history of atomic and nuclear theory (#S-7A). The first two contain hands-on exercises.
Q-1. Quantum Physics
Peripheral Subjects related to section S-7 above:
(A very quick overview of the relevant history.)
S-7A The Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy
S-8. Nuclear Power
S-8A-1 1. The Foundations: Atoms and Nuclei
S-8A-2 2. Nuclear Binding Energy
S-8A-3 3. Fission of Heavy Nuclei
S-8A-4 4. Controlling the Nuclear Reaction
Article by Leslie Allen on using Thorium for nuclear fuel
S-8A-5 References, Questions and Answers
S-9. Nuclear Weapons
Author and Curator: Dr. David P. Stern
Mail to Dr.Stern: stargaze("at" symbol)phy6.org .
Last updated: 9-22-2004