NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Center

Teaching Space Weather  

These are the "talking points" that can be used with the slide presentation . Any teacher can make use of this presentation as a beginning to explore the subject of space weather. This SWPC web site may be a source of follow-on information, as will as the many links here to other sites.    

§ Indicates follow-on activities for interested students


1. Solar Emission

2. The Sun

3. Parts of the Sun

The sun is a gas ball with various temperatures and densities

4. The Surface We See


5. Faint  Upper Atmosphere


6. Between Sun and Earth

7. Earth's Magnetic Field

8. Sun and Earth are Alike

Each have:

§ Explore what seasons are on Earth (relates to position around Sun) and what they are on the Sun (we don't really know why).
§ The polar orientation on the Sun reverses every 11 years; it reverses on the Earth every 100,000 years or so.
§ The various definitions of a day are interesting for Earth and for the Sun.

9. Solar Activity

§ Plotting a list of monthly or yearly sunspot numbers reveals the solar cycle plot. Easy to get that data on the Web

10. Sunspots!

11. Sunspots Travel

12. Solar Flare

§ Marvelous pictures on the web of the Sun, features in various wavelengths
§ Different wavelengths are looking at different temperatures, therefore different layers

13. Prominence


14. Optical Telescopes

§      Galileo was subjet to political/religious persecution. Why? Science and Religion in conflict.

15. Other Telescopes

16. Effects: Aurora

17. Effects: Navigation

18. Effects: Radio

§ Any Hams among your students? There are advantages to a disturbed ionosphere for those wanting to communicate around the world with whomever they can reach.

19. Effects: Electric Power

20. Effects: Pipelines

21. Effects: Satellites

22. Effects: Radiation

§ How serious is the radiation hazard on airplanes? Who is most seceptable to the risks?

23. Work in Space

24. Effects: Climate

25. Summary of Effects

Space Weather effects on:

TV feeds, navigation signals, some telephone signals, credit card transactions (for gas stations), weather maps, military surveillance, pager service

Tankers need to follow great circles to save on fuel costs, so wasted fuel; groundings, and spilled cargo

NASA cares. Every person has a daily limit and a lifetime limit of exposure. Can astronauts get to Mars without exceeding the limits? And without getting cancer?

Radio signals bounce differently or not at all when they are expected to, so some places can receive signals during disturbed times. Air Force One has lost all radio contact while flying over the pole.

How would you know about this disruption?

Electrical blackouts. And these days, as the grids are interconnected more, larger areas will be affected.


26. NOAA Space Weather Scales

§ Understanding the scales is an excellent exercise in table reading; and is new and important

27. NOAA Science Ed Poster