The Greenwich Photo-heliographic Results (1874 – 1976): Procedures for Checking and Correcting the Sunspot Digital Datasets
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Attention is drawn to the existence of errors in the original digital dataset containing sunspot data extracted from certain sections of the printed Greenwich Photo-heliographic Results (GPR) 1874 – 1976. Calculating the polar coordinates from the heliographic coordinates and comparing them with the recorded polar coordinates reveals that there are both isolated and systematic errors in the original sunspot digital dataset, particularly during the early years (1874 – 1914). It should be noted that most of these errors are present in the compiled sunspot digital dataset and not in the original printed copies of the Greenwich Photo-heliographic Results. Surprisingly, many of the errors in the digitised positions of sunspot groups are apparently in the measured polar coordinates, not the derived heliographic coordinates. The mathematical equations that are used to convert between heliographic and polar coordinate systems are formulated and then used to calculate revised (digitised) polar coordinates for sunspot groups, on the assumption that the heliographic coordinates of every sunspot group are correct. The additional complication of requiring accurate solar ephemerides in order to solve the mathematical equations is discussed in detail. It is shown that the isolated and systematic errors, which are prevalent in the sunspot digital dataset during the early years, disappear if revised polar coordinates are used instead. A comprehensive procedure for checking the original sunspot digital dataset is formulated in an Appendix.
KeywordsGreenwich photo-heliographic results Positions and areas of sunspots and faculae Reconstructed solar images Isolated and systematic errors Mathematical equations Solar ephemerides Preliminary corrections Generalised checking procedures
The authors thank J.H. Allen, L. Győri, R.A. Harrison, F.R. Stephenson, and P.T. Wallace for much valuable advice, assistance and encouragement during the preparation of this paper. They are also greatly indebted to a referee for suggesting substantial improvements to the presentation of the material included in the paper.
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