Suggested Solar Science Literature

This Very Short Introduction explores what we know about the Sun, its physics, its structure, origins, and future evolution. Philip Judge explains some of the remaining puzzles about the Sun that still confound us, using elementary physics, and mathematical concepts. Why does the Sun form spots? Why does it flare? As he shows, these and other nagging difficulties relate to the Sun's continually variable magnetism, which converts an otherwise dull star into a machine for flooding interplanetary space with variable radiation, high-energy particles and magnetic ejections. Throughout, Judge highlights the many reasons that the Sun is important, and why scientists engage in solar research:

Judge, P., The Sun: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2020.

The luminosity of the sun governs the temperatures of the planets. Yet the solar forcing, or driving, of climate, primarily due to changes in solar radiation, has never been well documented. Recent satellite measurements have shown that solar radiation varies as a function of time and wavelength, a concept that has been hypothesized for the past two centuries and has recently become a major topic with all the attention paid to global warming. This book reviews the physics of the concept of solar forcing, from its beginnings in the early 1800's and apparent success in the 1870's, to its near demise in the 1950's and recent resurgence. Since its emphasis is on solar variations as a driver for climate change, with only a brief discussion of other mechanisms, the book will be of most interest to students in climate studies:

D. V. Hoyt and K. H. Schatten: The Role of the Sun in Climate Change, Oxford University Press, 1997, 279 pages, hardback ISBN 0-19-509413-1

To get a feel for contemporary research directions in solar physics, the interested reader may wish to browse through:

Strong. K., Saba, J. and Haisch, B., (eds), The many faces of the Sun, 1995.

The National Research Council published a report entitled Solar Influences on Global Change:

Solar Influences on Global Change, National Academy Press, Washington D.C., 1994

The following is a historical account of the development of solar physics from the early seventeenth century to the present:

Hufbauer, K., Exploring the Sun: Solar Science since Galileo, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

The following are two textbooks devoted exclusively to solar physics and discuss at some length the physical nature and mode of operation of the solar dynamo:

Stix, M., The Sun: An Introduction, Springer, 1989
Foukal, P. V., Solar Astrophysics, Wiley Interscience, 1990.

The Sun is a rather ordinary star, but being so much closer to even the next nearest star makes it an invaluable benchmark against which to test astrophysical theories. Introductory textbooks on astronomy and astrophysics abound; at the pre-calculus level, we recommend:

Abell, G. O., Morrison, D. and Wolff, S. C., Exploration of the Universe (fifth edition), Saunders College Publishing, 1987".

Readers comfortable with basic calculus may opt for:

Shu, F., The Physical Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, University Science Books, 1982.

On the influence of solar variability on the Earth's climate, see:

White, O. R. (ed), The Solar Radiative Output and its variations, Colorado Associated University Press, 1977.

Galileo's views on sunspots are discussed in greater length in his so-called Letters on Sunspots, excerpts of which have also been translated by S. Drake in his Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, Doubleday, 1967:

Galilei, G., Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, trans. S. Drake, University of California Press, 1967.

In 1908, Annie and Walter Maunder published a book entitled The Heavens and their Story, aimed at an amateur audience and “written with the hope that the reader may be drawn by it to study astronomy by himself”. In the preface, Walter acknowledged that it was almost entirely the work of his wife. The book was popular and very favorably reviewed. In one of its chapters, she describes the passage of a “monster sunspot” over the solar disc in November 1882, and how a violent geomagnetic storm was recorded when the spot was about half way across the disc. In their book they also argue that the sudden onset of terrestrial magnetic storms, and the fact that they recur on the sunspot synodic rotation period of 27 days, was consistent with the Earth encountering a “ray”, such as had been seen in her 1898 eclipse photographs.

Maunder E W & Maunder A S D, The Heavens and their Story, R Culley, London, 1908.