Spot the Sunspots

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In this activity, learners use binoculars (or a telescope) to identify and track sunspots. If using binoculars, learners need a pair that can be secured on a tripod. Specific information is also provided on the size of binoculars. At the end of the activity, learners have the option of comparing their conclusions with real time images of the Sun showing (or not showing) sunspots from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos. This activity needs a sunny day. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and connections to relevant science concepts like sunspots, and the solar cycle with helpful diagrams and photos. Please note there may be no sunspots due to the current activity of the Sun.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • two sheets of bright white paper
  • a book
  • tape
  • binoculars or telescope (specific sizes are listed)
  • tripod
  • pencil
  • piece of cardboard- roughly 30cm x 30cm
  • scissors
  • thick piece of paper- roughly 10cm x 10cm (optional)
  • rubber bands (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2014