Edward Maunder plots the first sunspot ’butterfly diagram’

(108 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

The English astronomer Edward Maunder worked as a spectroscopic assistant at the Royal Observatory in London, a job that included examining sunspot activity. He traced a change in the location of these sunspots over an eleven-year cycle, beginning near the poles, and then, as activity reached its peak, moving nearer to the sun's equator. When plotted on a graph of time against latitude, this displayed a characteristic 'butterfly' pattern, giving the impression of a line of butterflies in flight towards the left of the graph. This work gave important impetus to revising contemporary theories about the sun, although the precise reason for this pattern is still not known.

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Editors. "Edward Maunder plots the first sunspot ’butterfly diagram’". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 August 2013
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=6397, accessed 10 October 2015.]