AAS 197, January 2001
Session 87. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy II
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[87.09] Real Research In The Classroom - Solar Active Longitudes

T. Stagg (Girard College), M. Gearen (Punahou HS), S.H. Jacoby (NOAO/EO), H.P. Jones (NASA/GSFC), C.J. Henney, F. Hill (NSO)

We present a high-school level educational/research module for a project that improves computer and analytical skills and contributes new scientific results to the field of solar astronomy and physics. The module has been developed within the RET (Research Experience for Teachers) program as a new application of a cooperative project between the RBSE (Research-Based Science Education) initiative of the NSF and the NASA Education/Public Outreach program.

The research goal is to improve our knowledge of the characteristics of solar active longitudes, where sunspots tend to cluster. In particular, the rotation rate of these regions is poorly known. It is suspected that the active longitude rotation rate (ALRR) is different from the rotation rate of the solar surface. If this is true, the ALRR can be compared with the internal rotation rate deduced by helioseismology providing an estimate of the active region depth. A good determination of the ALRR requires the measurement of the position of thousands of individual active regions, a step best done by interactive examination of images, selection of regions, and determination of heliographic position. These tasks are well-suited for high school students, who are thus provided with a motivation to improve their computer and scientific thinking skills. ScionImage (PC)/NIH Image (Macs) macros for this purpose have been developed which access a CD-ROM of 25 years of NSO/Kitt Peak magnetogram data and laboratory exercises developed previously for classroom use. In the future, a web site will be created for collecting the data from classrooms across the US, and for status reports on the results.

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