This radar dish at the Sondrestrom Observatory in Greenland is used to study the ionosphere.

Ground-based Observations of Space Weather

Spacecraft help us look at space weather. We can also make some space weather measurements from the surface of Earth. Instruments on the ground are cheaper and are easier to fix than instruments on spacecraft.

Watching the Sun from Earth

Astronomers have used special telescopes to view the Sun for a long time. Remember, these are special telescopes so that scientists won't hurt their eyes (Never look directly at the Sun with your own eyes!). Using these special telescopes, scientists have noted the number of sunspots for a long time.

Scientists use coronagraphs, instruments that make artificial eclipses, to study the Sun's atmosphere.

Northern Lights and Southern Lights - the Aurora

There is a glow sometimes in the sky that we call the aurora (or Southern or Northern Lights). People have looked at aurora for many years. The Lights are made when space weather storms hit Earth's atmosphere. Aurora watchers can notice how bright an aurora is and how long it lasts. This helps us know how strong a space weather storm is.

Using Radio Waves to Observe the Ionosphere

Space weather makes changes in Earth's atmosphere. Instruments on Earth help us keep track of how the atmosphere changes. Scientists keep a close eye on one part of the atmosphere, the ionosphere. Using instruments like radars, they can see how the ionosphere changes as space weather changes.

Measuring Magnetic Fields around the Globe

Did you know that the Sun is magnetic? When solar wind leaves the Sun, it actually carries the Sun's magnetic field with it. Scientists use magnetometers all over the Earth to measure the Earth's own magnetic field and the Sun's magnetic field when it comes to Earth.

Last modified May 11, 2006 by Jennifer Bergman.

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