What are the motivations and personal benefits to be a SILSO observer ?
Our observers, among which very faithfull ones for more than 30 years, would probably tell you that they simply enjoy sunspot observing because:
- it is one of the best ways to have a front-row view of the changing solar activity
- it is not highly demanding: a few minutes per day at any time of the day is just what is needed to get this global count. Some of our observers do it even at their workplace, e.g. during the lunch break. Very flexible!
- it is cheap: no costly camera or optics. Just a small telescope, a paper screen and your eyes are all you need. So, even young beginning observers enter this activity
- it is comfortable: no need to drag yourself out of your bed in the middle of the night!
Moreover, the main benefit that our observers will mention is to be part of a worldwide scientific data collection effort. For them, knowing that they contribute to scientific research and to our efforts to understand the fundamental mechanisms of solar magnetic activity is both exciting and personally meaningful.
In fact, few pro-am collaborations have been more fruitful than sunspot observing and this is certainly the longest of all. Imagine: walking in the footprints of Galileo, Flamsteed, Herschel, Cassini, Schröter, Schwabe, Carrington. And the story still goes on, as the sunspot number series feeds more research topics than ever (more than 100 science papers per year). Recently, the "Nature" scientific journal identified the sunspot number series as one of the longest scientific experiment ever (actually the longest of all, with more than 400 years).
So, why not become part of it?