Living with a star
19 July 2007
The ‘Living with a Star: Surviving Near our Explosive Sun’ stand organised by Dr Lucie Green (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) was a great success at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2007, with more than 4,000 people visiting the stand.
The annual Royal Society exhibition, this year held from 2 to 5 July, is a showcase of the best of UK science and illustrates how science is a major part of everyday life.
The Sun produces huge and powerful eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which throw masses of charged particles into space with explosive force. Some of these inevitably reach the Earth, creating beautiful aurora in the polar skies, but also with the potential to wreak havoc with our telecommunications and electricity networks.
‘Living with a Star’ is based on the work of research institutes across the UK that are using data from two new space missions – STEREO and Hinode – to better understand the Sun’s behaviour, and plan for solar storms that might affect the Earth.
Dr Green said: “There was a nice mix of students, teachers, the public and then VIPs. The science interactives, where the visitors could explore magnetic fields and ultra violet light, meant that we could then relate these to the erupting magnetic structures that we are studying by imaging the Sun in UV light. The highlight was definitely the 3D movies that we had of the eruptions. The movies are made from the data from the STEREO mission and it’s the first time they have been shown at an exhibition like this. The teachers particularly liked our stand because we also discussed the ways in which the Sun affects the Earth – this is now in some of the science syllabi. Talking to the teachers helps to answer their questions. but also builds their confidence in teaching the subject.”
To find out more, use the links at the top of this article.
Image 1: A young boy becomes familiar with magnetic fields
Image 2: The 3D film of the Sun was very popular
Image 3: The display
Image 4: The VIP evening