Solar astronomy is the study of our sun, which can also be called stellar astronomy because our sun is technically a star. The main branch of solar astronomy is solar physics, which is a branch of astrophysics that specifically studies the sun. The sun is our closest star, therefore is an ideal star to study and especially since changes in the sun’s atmosphere and activity can dramatically affect us here on earth. The sun has been studied for many centuries and along with the moon, ancient civilizations used the sun to help construct their calendars.
Study of the sun
Modern astronomers use special telescopes (in the past they used Heliographs) to detect light with wavelengths in the visible spectrum that can be detected by the human eye. These telescopes are operated during the day, which can cause turbulence from the ground being heated around the telescope. So, generally these telescopes are built on towers which are then painted white.
Discoveries made over the years
Some historical discoveries resulting in the study of solar astronomy include sunspot observations that could demonstrate the rotation of the sun, solar flares (which are a burst of energy deriving from the sun), solar radio waves, solar x-rays, solar wind (which is the never-ending stream of particles the sun constantly releases) and the discovery that the sun is made of hydrogen, not iron.
The benefits of solar astronomy compared to night astronomy is that you can observe during the day, you don’t need a huge telescope and the sun is constantly changing – it’s appearance won’t be the same tomorrow as it is today.