Sunspot Positions and Areas from Observations by Pierre Gassendi

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6 Scopus citations


Solar activity behaviour on the eve of the Maunder minimum may provide important information on the period of further suppression of sunspot population. We analyse sunspot positions and areas in the 1630s extracted from rare drawings published by Pierre Gassendi in Opera Omnia. This work was published in two different editions, the first in Lyon and the second almost 70 years later in Florence. The drawings published in Lyon are found to be slightly different from those published in Florence, which produces a discrepancy in the position of spots of a few degrees, while sunspot group areas may differ by a factor of two. We reveal that the orientation of the drawings in the book is not always the same as might be seen in the telescope. We conjecture that the time of Gassendi’s observations covers the beginning of a new Schwabe cycle in the southern hemisphere. The differential rotation rate in the 1630s is also assessed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Solar cycle, observations
  • Sunspots
  • Sunspots, velocity


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