The Sun provides us with light and heat. While these are two obvious facts about the Sun, there is so much more to learn. A Sun unit study is such a fun way to learn about this amazing star in our solar system!
One of my favorite ways to study science as a child and as a homeschool mom was through specific topics of interest. The solar system is something that nearly every child has an interest in and can enjoy. The thought of another world outside of the one we can see fills them with wonder.
I love watching the sunrise in the morning and set in the evening. Feeling the warmth on my face and knowing the blessing of another day. Simply beautiful. Watching them from space? I can only imagine!
Sun Unit Study
The gravity of the Sun holds the entire solar system together. This dwarf star is a hot ball of gases, just like billions of other stars we see in the night sky.
Since the Sun is a star, it is made up of gases specifically, the Sun is a mixture of hydrogen and helium.
Without the Sun at its exact place in the galaxy, we could not live on the Earth for many reasons. Nothing would be able to grow, it wouldn’t be warm enough to live here, nor would we have the climate and seasons that we know and love.
The stream of particles and magnetic fields that the Sun constantly releases is called the solar wind. This wind travels across our solar system and can stream all the way to planet surfaces unless stopped by either a planet’s atmosphere, magnetic field, or both.
Over time, the Sun has had different names, including; ‘Sol’, ‘Soleil’, ‘Sonne’ and ‘Helios’. Later in the 1600s, the more common spelling of ‘Sun’ came into popular use.
The Sun is larger than any planet in the solar system up to 277:1! This graphic helps to understand just how small our solar system is when compared with the Sun.
While the Sun is much larger than any of the planet in our galaxy, it is actually not a large star with its radius totaling 432,168.6 miles.
To find the diameter of a circle, you multiply the radius times two. The Sun’s diameter is 864,337.2 miles. You would need to line up more than 100 Earths to cover the face of the Sun.
The mass of the Sun is 2.1978 × 1027 short tons. A short ton is equal to 2000 pounds. To match the mass of the Sun, it would take more than 325,000 Earths. Remember, that mass is how heavy something is without gravity. The difference between weight and mass is that weight is determined by the pull of gravity on an object.
The Sun’s volume is equal to that of 1.3 million Earths with a total of 338,102,469,632,763,000 miles3.
- Surface area
Finding the surface area of the Sun you need to determine how many square units that will exactly cover its surface. How many do you think you would need to cover the Sun? The actual surface area of the Sun is 2,347,017,636,988 square miles.
Since the Sun is a star its density changes between its layers. The mean density of the Sun is 1410 kg/m3.
- Location in the Solar System
The Sun is the center of our solar system. All of the planets and moons surround it.
- Distance from the Galactic Center
26,000 light-years separate the Sun from the Galactic Center. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, which is equal to 5,878,499,810,000 miles.
- Distance from Earth
There are 93 million miles that separate the Earth from the Sun.
The Sun is made up of 6 different layers. The core, the radiative zone, and the convective zone make up the star’s interior. The visible surface is called the photosphere. Followed by the chromosphere and then the outermost region of the Sun is the corona.
The photosphere layer is 300 miles thick. What we see as sunlight is actually radiation coming from the photosphere layer of the Sun!
The Sun’s core temperature is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. In the convective zone temperatures drop below 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit. On the surface of the Sun the temperature is approximately 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The average speed that the solar system is moving through the milky way is 450,000 miles per hour.
- Axis Rotation
At the equator, the Sun spins around once about every 25 days, but at its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days.
The Sun’s thin atmosphere is where we see sunspots and solar flares. In the atmosphere of the Sun, the higher the altitude the higher the temperature — reaching 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit!
- Solar Eclipse
There are times when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking light to the world. When this happens, it is called a solar eclipse.
Please note, that some of the resources below may include evolutionary information. I encourage you to have a conversation with your children or preview these resources prior to assigning them as part of your homeschool studies.
Where Does the Sun’s Energy Come From?
Games and Activities
The Sun is a beautiful star that gives life to our world. At the beginning of a new day, it brings a smile to your face. The end of a day is beautiful to behold as the sun is setting on the horizon. I’m so thankful for sunny days and my dream would be to live somewhere it shines every day!
What did your kids enjoy learning the most through your Sun unit study?