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Weather in Space

Sunspots and Solar Activity

Who first discovered sunspots?

The earliest recorded observations of sunspots go all the way back to the year 28 B.C.E., when Chinese astronomers made note of dark spots on the Sun. In the era of modern, western civilization, the credit goes to the famous Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), who first recognized sunspot activity through his telescope in around 1611 (sources vary, crediting the discovering anywhere between 1610 and 1613). Records show that others, including Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), had observed sunspots before Galileo, but they failed to recognize them for what they were. Kepler, for instance, mistook the spot he saw, several years before Galileo, as the planet Mercury orbiting in front of the Sun.



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