Go to home page Sunspot Drawing Resource Page:

General References:

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 1, 1827 to present. Invaluable reference source for locating 19th century sunspot observations.

Popular Astronomy Vol. 1, 1895 to 1951. Fun to search through to find amateur submissions and reports of solar phenomena.

Mitchell, Walter M., The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots, in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, 22-ff., 1916. This is a wonderful essay about the first telescopic observations of sunspots and the debate surrounding the discoveries, but one not often cited. Valuable background information on the 17th century observers. Mitchell published this article as 9 installments in Volume 24 at page locations 22, 82, 149, 206, 290, 341, 428, 488, and 562. Issues of Popular Astronomy from 1916 might be hard to locate. I strongly rely on this paper for the early listings.

World Data Center for Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Catalogue of Data on Solar-Terrestrial Physics and Directory of Solar-Terrestrial Physics Monitoring Stations, 1957 to present. Published periodically, this report lists observing stations which submit data to the World Data Center, Boulder Colorado. A good resource to find out which solar observatories are doing what. Much of this received data can be found at the National Geophysical Data Center ftpsite.

H. W. Newton, The Face of the Sun. Penguin Books Ltd., 1958.
A fine little work about the surface phenomena of the sun and one that should be in every sunspot observer's library. Has a decent account of the history of solar observing with interesting commentary on most of the primary observers of the 19th century. H. W. Netwon spent a lifetime studying sunspots and authored many significant papers on the subject. As far as I know, this was only published as a Pelican paperback edition, which is unfortunate due to the low-quality paper stock used.
Book cover.

Bray, R. J., and Loughead, R. E., Sunspots. John Wiley and Sons Inc., 1965.
Standard 1960's work on sunspots and a classic in solar physics. Has a brief review of early sunspot observations. Available as a Dover reprint. Book cover.

Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., The Role of the Sun in Climate Change. Oxford University Press, 1997.
A very well organized and non-mathematical introduction into the debate surrounding changes in the earth's climate and the influence of the sun on these changes. Each chapter is well researched and very readable, and the bibliography is invaluable for those interested in historical solar observations. This is a "must read" for anyone studying sunspot cycles and their possible connection to terrestrial events. Book cover.

Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., 1998. Group Sunspot Numbers: A new Solar Activity Reconstruction, in Solar Physics, Vol. 181, pgs. 491-512. A paper which describes work on a much needed project: Creating a more meaningful sunspot group number index. The authors construct a new time series known as the Group Sunspot Number which is derived fundamentally from the historic Zurich Sunspot Numbers, but has many unknown (or overlooked) observations added, and uses a much better group definition formula. The appendixes to this paper porvide a list of 463 known sunspot observers from 1610 to 1992, a new and more accurate "sunspot count", plus an amazing and very valuable bibliographical listing which is also placed on the NOAA ftpsite. This document must now constitute the current "Master Index" of historical sunspot observations. I use (and will use) many of the notations from this work as reference material for this website.

Charbonneau, Paul., 1998. Great Moments in the History of Solar Physics, NCAR website. A fine website sponsored by the High Altitude Observatory with many illustrations outlining the history of solar physics and early observations.

The Observers: (Also linked from the main pages.)

John of Worcester
This drawing is wonderful, and as far as is known, it is the earliest existing drawing of a sunspot. The surrounding text reads: ". . . on Saturday, 8 December there appeared from the morning right up to the evening two black spheres against the sun. The first was in the upper part and large, the second in the lower and small, and each was directly opposite the other as this diagram shows." (From McGurk below.) For an observer without a telescope to be able to see not only the spots themselves, but the penumbra of the spots implies that these were very large sunspots, rivaling the great group of April 1947.
The observation is described in: The Chronicle of John of Worcester, 1118-1140, J. R. H Weaver ed., 1908. and McGurk, P., The Chronicle of John of Worcester Vol III, Pg. 183, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998. The original drawing manuscript is at Corpus Christi College, (MS 157, Folio 389), Oxford, England. The drawing shown was published in: Medieval Humanism, R.W. Southern, Basil Blackwell Pub., 1970.
For a new commentary on this observation see: Stephenson and Willis The Earliest Drawing of Sunspots, Astronomy and Geophysics, Vol. 40, Issue 6, pp 21-22, December 1999. This observation not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above.

Thomas Harriot (1560-1621)
Harriot's Dec 8th observation is the first proven telescopic observation of sunspots, and is the earliest dated drawing done using a telescope. Apparently he was unaware of Galileo's and Scheiner's observations of the same time period.
Source: Mitchell, Walter M.; The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, pg. 149-153, 1916.

Cavalier Domenico Cresti di Passignano
Domenico Cresti di Passignano and Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli were friends of Galileo which had both acquired telescopes. They developed a correspondence with Galileo discussing (among other items) the subject of sunspots. They all agreed it would be a good idea to make drawings of these solar spots in order to record their movement, position, and relation to the sun's sphere. I do not know if any of Domenico's drawings still survive.
Source: Mitchell, Walter M.; The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, pg. 91, 1916 His observations are not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above.

Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli
See account above. Source: Mitchell, Walter M.; The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, pg. 92-93,152, 1916

Christopher Scheiner (1573-1650)
Scheiner was the first astronomer to establish a solar observatory. The front illustration in Book III of Rosa Ursina diagrams all five observational methods he used for observing the sun. Even though Scheiner did solar observations for about 22 years and writes of doing drawings during this period, all of the original drawings are apparently lost. Scheiner's observations from the 21st October, 1611 to the 14th of December, 1611 were published in: Tres Epistolae de Maculis Solaribus, by Mark Welser in 1612. Observations from December 1624 to June 1627 are published in Scheiner's massive work (790 pages): Rosa Ursina sive Sol,, 1630.
One interesting item not often mentioned regarding the Rosa Ursina is that Scheiner enlisted several observers (stationed mostly throughout Europe) to gather data on the days that he was unable to do so. (A forerunner to G. E. Hale's concept of placing several solar observatories, logically spaced in longitude, to obtain uninterrupted solar observations.) Among these were: Cysat in Ingolstadt, Germany; Father George Schönberger also in Ingolstadt; Father Chrysostomus Gall in Lisbon; Father Giuseppi Biancani in Parma, Italy; Father Kasper Reuss in Peru; and Karl Malapert in Holland.
Sources: Mitchell, Walter M, The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, 1916.; Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., 1998. Group Sunspot Numbers: A new Solar Activity Reconstruction, in Solar Physics, Vol. 179: Bibliographical appendix; Hale, George Ellery, Co-operation in Solar Research, in Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 20, p. 301, December 1904.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Galileo insisted that he telescopically observed the solar disk many times beginning in the summer of 1610. The first series of drawings known which were done by Galileo is a set of 9 from May 3 to May 11, 1612, inclosed within a letter from Galileo to Maffeo Barberini. Knowing Galileo's story, one cannot help but think it rather ironic that most of Galileo's original drawings are now archived at the Vatican. The original drawing posted is from the Library of Congress Vatican Exhibit website. Some of Galileo's drawings were first published in: Istoria e Dimostrazioni intotno alle Macchie Solari, Lincean Academy, 1623.
Sources: Mitchell, Walter M, The History of the Discovery of the Solar Spots in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 24, 1916; Personal communication from Dr. Albert Van Helden, Dept. of History, Rice University. Rice University's wonderful Galileo sunspot drawing page is located here.

Petrus Saxonius
Eddy, John., The Ancient Sun: Fossil Records in the Earth, Moon and Meteorites, Pergamon Press, 1980;

Johann Rudolf Wolf (1816-1893)
I'm having a little trouble locating the facts regarding Wolf's own personal observations, but thought I would include what I have since he is so significant in the history of sunspot observations. Amusingly, this creator of the famous "Zürich Sunspot Relative Number" and refiner of the sunspot cycle is listed by Hoyt and Schatten as a poor observer: ". . .missing [the] smaller groups. On hazy days his group counts would drop markedly." Nevertheless, Wolf used himself as his own primary observer for the sunspot count from 1848 to 1893.
Sources: Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., Solar Physics, Vol. 179, 1998: Bibliographical appendix. Waldmeier, M., 100 Jahre Sonnenfleckenstatistik, Astronomische Mitteilungen der Eidenössischen Sternwarte Zürich, Nr. 152, 1948.

William McKeon
I would like to find out more about this superb solar artist! Drawings shown were published in: Cortie, A. L., The Great Sun-Spot Group and the Magnetic Storm, March 22-23.. Monthly Notices, R. A. S., Vol. 74, No. 8, 1920, and Cortie, A. L., An area of Long continued Solar Disturbance and the associted Magnetic Storms. Monthly Notices, R. A. S., Vol. 80, No. 6, 1920. Observations not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above.

Rev. Frederick Howlett (1821-1908)
Monthly Notices, R. A. S., Vol. 55, Pg. 73, 1895; Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., Solar Physics, Vol. 179, 1998: Bibliographical appendix.

Angelo Secchi (1818-1878)
Images are from Fr. Secchi's book Le Soleil, Paris, 1870.

P. Julius Fenyi (1845-1927)
Thanks to Dr. Ludmany in Hungary for all the knowledgeable information on Father Fenyi.
Biographical information on Julius Fenyi can be found at this webpage.

George Ellery Hale (1868-1938)
It is amazing that with everything else George Hale was doing at age 23, he found the time to do daily sunspot drawings. To my knowledge, these observations have never been published. The examples shown are from George Hale's personal hand-written "Kenwood Astro-Physical Observatory" notebook, June 22, 1891 to January 2, 1893. (Private collection of Larry Webster.) Unfortunately, there is no mention regarding the telescope used, or method of observation.
For biographies on George E. Hale see: Wright, Helen., Explorer of the Universe, American Institute of Physics 1994 (original work published in 1966); and Osterbrock, Donald E., Pauper & Prince - Ritchey, Hale, & Big American Telescopes, University of Arizona Press, 1993. A very nice biographical sketch of Hale from the Yerkes Observatory is found
here. Observations not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above.

Osservatorio Astrofisico Catania
Drawing Source: R. Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Annuario 1926.
Reference source: Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., Solar Physics, Vol. 179, 1998: Bibliographical appendix.

J. F. Lanneau
I know nothing about this observer except for these observations submitted to Popular Astronomy in 1903.
Observations not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above.

Mount Wilson Observatory
Drawings from 1917 to 1924 are published in: George E. Hale and Seth B. Nicholson Magnetic Observation of Sunspots, Part II, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1938. Book cover. - Page example.
Some of the sunspot observers since 1917 have been: Ferdinand Ellerman, Seth B. Nicholson, Walter T. Whitney,
Lewis H. Humason, Edison Pettit, Alfred H. Joy, Frederick S. Brackett, Hugo Benioff, Joseph O. Hickox, Luis Rodes,
Edison R. Hoge, Arthur S. Dockman, Clarence M. Henshaw, Milton L. Humason, Robert S. Richardson, Thomas A. Cragg,
Merwyn Utter, John Adkins, Thomas S. Gregory, Stephen Padilla, Larry S. Webster, Pamela Gilman, Thomas R. Shieber, Colleen Gino.
Contact for data requests: Larry Webster. Complete sunspot database not listed in Hoyt and Schatten index.

National Astronomical Observatory
For requests or questions regarding this sunspot database, write to:
Dr. Takashi Sakurai Solar Physics Division
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588 Japan
Database website

Thomas A. Cragg
A former professional observer at Mt. Wilson Observatory, Mr. Cragg is an extremely dedicated solar observer who has made an observation on every clear day since 1944, when possible. There was a 15 month hiatus in 1945 for military service, but even when Mr. Cragg was once in the hospital, he leaned over in his bed with his Celestron 5 to get a solar observation through the window! Source: Personal communications to L. Webster, 1999.
Mr. Cragg's observations are not listed in the Hoyt and Schatten index above which is unfortunate since Mr. Cragg is one of the most assiduous observers I have ever known.

Hisako Koyama
Another very dedicated solar observer. All of her observations to 1984 are published in tabular form with one drawing example in: Koyama, Hisako., Observation of Sunspots 1947-1984, Kawadeshoboshinsha Pub., Toyko, 1985
Source: Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., Solar Physics, Vol. 179, 1998: Bibliographical appendix.

Kandilli Observatory
Since 1946 the sunspot observers have been: F. Gokmen, M. Dizer, G. Cologlu, M. Bolgun, E. Soyturk, A. Ozguc, T. Tekman, M.N. Yazici, R. Ozsoy, E Sozen, E. Ozan, H. Kendik, C. Yildiz, S. Bayazit, S. Vatandaslar, E. Esencay, O. Barlas, A. Savci, K. Erpamir, O. Gencoglu, I.S. Ustuner, H. Eroz, T. Atac, H. Bolge, L. Altas, M. Saglamsaatci, H. Yesilyaprak, A. Duzgelen, H. Sahin. Source: Personal communication from T. Atac.

Yunnan Observatory
Drawings published in Supplements to the Publications of Yunnan Observatory, Yunnan Observatory Academia Sinica.
Observations not in Hoyt and Schatten index.

Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
Drawing from: Solar Phenomena Monthly Bulletins.
Ref: Hoyt, Douglas V. and Schatten, Kenneth H., Solar Physics, Vol. 179, 1998: Bibliographical appendix.

Beijing Astronomical Observatory
Drawing from: Publications of the Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Academia Sinica.
Source:Directory of Solar Terrestrial Physics Monitoring Stations, World Data Center A for Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Boulder, Colorado, 1984.

NOAA/Space Environment Center
For over 40 years the Space Environment Center (formerly called The World Data Center) has been the U.S. "clearing house" for solar-terrestrial data. Specializing in solar physical phenoma, they have available an extensive archive of solar, geophysical, and space weather data. Much of this is now on-line and can be found at the following websites:
Current solar images from selected sites.
Latest Solar-Geophysical data.
Sunspot numbers.
General solar-terrestrial physics data archive.
Space Environment Center Homepage.

Javier Járboles Marañón
Señor Marañón's drawing arrangement is so interesting, I thought others might like to know about it. Here is his description as he sent it to me:
". . .Comencé con un reflector Visen de 15 obj., luego un Meade S.C. de 18O m/m apertura, un Celestron de 355 (con filtro Milar) y a la vez, definitivamente, con un refractor Zeiss de 63 m/m de apertura, longitud focal de 840 m/m, dibujando siempre en proyección, con la particularidad de observar corrientemente en dos escalas o tamaños. La primera sobre cartulina enfocando en un circulo de 140 m/m y dibujando los grupos o regiones directamente en dicho circulo apoyando dicha cartulina en un soporte o atril con movimiento para fijar la declinación.
La segunda montando un cono truncado de aluminio sobre el soporte anterior, medidas del cono: diametro de 800 m/m. y altura de unos 680 m/m. pintado de negro el interior, con dos aberturas, una lateral para poder observar o dibujar y otra en la parte superior que se acopla al telescopio con un embudo de tela plastificada con el fin de darle flexibilidad y poder aumentar la distancia focal, para mejor entendimiento adjunto fotografía del instrumento. Este utensilio lo diseñé y mande construir hace unos doce años empleandolo desde entonces con el fin de conseguir mayor contraste y mayor tamaño de las manchas, aproximadamente unas 5 veces, con lo que puedo contar mas manchas y poros estudiar mejor la morfologia de umbras y penumbras.En estos dos últimos años he visto cajas,o cámaras parecidas, en Sky & Telescope."

Image of telescope. Email address: jarboles@lander.es

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Listing maintained by Larry S. Webster.
Corrections and additions are encouraged!

Page last updated on April 29, 2000