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The Sun is a ball of hot gases. By weight, it is 70 percent hydrogen, 28 percent helium, 1.5 percent carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, and 0.5 percent other elements. The Sun's temperature is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the center. The average distance from Earth to the Sun is 93,000,000 miles. Light travels in 8 1/2 minutes from the Sun to Earth. The diameter of the Sun is 870,000 mile: 109 times larger than Earth's. Its volume is big enough to hold over 1 million Earths.

The Sun gives us heat, light, food, and the air that we breathe. It powers the atmosphere to give us the wind and rain. Even the coal and oil that generate electricity for light and power come from plants and animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago and depended on the Sun for life. The Sun heats the land, oceans, and air. It evaporates water from lakes and oceans. When the water vapor cools, it drops as rain or snow, giving us the moisture we need for drinking water, and for plants and animals to grow. Green plants use the Sun's rays to turn carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates. At the same time, the plants release oxygen that we use to breathe. The production of carbohydrates by green plants is called photosynthesis. The carbohydratesthat plants form are used by them to grow, and we, in turn, use plants for our nourishment. Without the Sun, Earth would be a dark, cold, and dead place.


Wedding Ring

The final burst of light as the moon's shadow slides over the Sun's disk resembles a diamond wedding ring.

Bailey's Beads

The bright spots along the edges of the nearly covered sun are known as Bailey's Beads. They are created by the last direct light from the sun shining through valleys in the Moon's mountains.



  • Students will examine characteristics of the Sun
  • Students will examine size and distance relationships between the Sun and Earth
  • Students will recognize the value of using models to examine phenomena too distant or abstract for direct observation.


  • THE SUN a book by Seymour Simon
  • Candle
  • Matches
  • Tape measure
  • Colored tagboard, tissue paper, wire coat hangers
  • Drawing paper
  • NASA ROCKETS: a TeacherŐs Guide


Grades K through 2

  • Show students a lighted candle
  • Discuss with the students how the candle is like our sun (provides heat and light, etc.)
  • Read THE SUN, a book by Seymour Simon.

Grades 3 through 4

  • Display and light a candle. Tell students to think of ways a candle is like the Sun
  • Have students create an individual K-W-L chart or do this as a whole-class activity
  • K - What the students know about the Sun
  • W - What they want to learn about the Sun
  • L - What they have learned about the Sun
  • The chart will help the students think of questions they may want to ask the scientist or engineer during the assembly.

Grades 5 through 6

  • Have students create journal entries that brainstorm or hypothesize the composition, features, and influence of the Sun.


The diameter of the sun is 109 times the diameter of the earth and the distance is 93 million miles between Earth and the Sun. Ask students to estimate the size of the Sun relative to the size of Earth and the distance between the two.

Grades K through 3

  • Show the relative sizes of Earth and the Sun by comparing a pea to a beach ball.
  • Explain that the Sun and Earth are very far apart. The distance could be compared to placing the beach ball at one end of a football field and the pea midfield on the 50-yard line.

Grades 4 through 6

  • Have students construct models of Earth and Sun that show relative sizes. The diameter (or circumference ) ratio is 109 to 1. If a student draws a circle with a diameter of 0.5 cm to represent Earth, a circle with a diameter of 54.5 cm would represent the Sun. The mean distance between the Sun and Earth is 93 million miles or 107 Sun diameters ( 34 Sun circumferences).
  • Using the paper models above, place Earth and the Sun 49.8 yards apart (one in the end zone and one on the 50 yard line of a football field).

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Models are tools to explain relationships and phenomena too large or abstract to be seen. Rockets are used to launch the satellites and probes that gather information about our solar system and beyond.

Grades K through 3

  • Build rocket cars (to simulate a surface probe or rover) using the instructions in the Rocket Book (pages 35-42)
  • Have the students conduct trial runs and measure the distance for each run
  • Follow with a discussion about variables that effect each carŐs movements and efficiency.

Grades 4 through 6

  • Build a pop rocket using the instructions in the Rocket Book (pages 43-46)
  • Have students isolate variables, make predictions, and measure and graph the heights of multiple rocket launches.


TheSun has been an object of art through the ages.

  • Have students create their own Sun designs on circles of colored tagboard or tissue paper stretched across a wire frame (for example: extended coat hanger)
  • Hang the Sun designs above their desks or create a class mobile to display.


  • Collect a sample or a snapshot of the art work to be included in the school portfolio
  • Complete the K-W-L chart
  • Estimate, make, and use measurements to describe and compare phenomena.

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Grades K through 4

  • Develop an understanding of objects in the sky
  • Develop an understanding of changes in Earth and sky
  • Develop an understanding of the position and motion of objects.

Grades 5 through 8

  • Develop an understanding of earth in the solar system
  • Develop an understanding of the transfer of energy.


Grades K through 4

  • Use models, known facts, properties, and relationships to explain their thinking
  • Use mathematics in other curriculum areas
  • Explore estimation strategies
  • Construct number meaning through real-world experiences and the use of physical materials
  • Develop spatial sense
  • Make and use estimates of measuring.

Grades 5 through 8

  • Understand and apply reasoning processes, with special attention to spatial reasoning and reasoning with proportions and graphs
  • Understand and apply ratios, proportions, and percents in a wide variety of situations
  • Represent numerical relationships in one-and two- dimensional graphs
  • Use computation, estimation, and proportions to solve problems
  • Systematically collect, organize, and describe data
  • Visualize and represent geometric figures with special attention to developing spatial sense.

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a book by
Seymour Simon

Seymour Simon is the author of over 200 highly acclaimed science books (over half of which have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the National Science Teachers Association). He has introduced millions of children to a staggering array of subjects, including the human body, animals and animal behavior, climate and weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, mirrors, optical illusions, rocks and minerals, star gazing and space, oceanography, and the list goes on and on.



Eclipse 99 Homepage NASA Homepage Links Chat Rooms Frequently Asked Questions Ask the Scientist Museum Participation NASA Homepage GO LIVE! Exploratorium GO LIVE! NASA Amazing Facts The Moon The Sun Eclipses and Math Connections Eclipses Through Traditions and Cultures