“The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love.”
March 14th 2011 – A lovely blue sky day greeted my eyes. At St Cronan’s Boys National School That morning I delivered a short talk on the features we see when we observe the sun in a h- alpha telescope. This was followed up by showing the boys a DVD supplied by NASA Goddard “Journey to the Stars” narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.
The boys who answered my sun questions after the presentation received “Looking through the Solar Atmosphere” images. We then went outside to have a look at the sun for real in my special solar telescope. We were very lucky to have a clear view of an Active Regions 1166, 1169, and 1172, on the solar disk and several prominences around the limb.
March 15th I ran my solar drawing workshop “The Suns Massive” for forty nine of the boys in Mr McGovern’s classroom. So many boys turned up to take part that some of them ended up working happily on the floor. We took a close look at some of the magical images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (a NASA telescope out in space). We learned a little bit about the suns explosive outbursts, prominences, solar flares, and CME’s. We looked at the sun in different wavelengths of light and we looked at the magnetic atmosphere of our nearest star.
Over the course of the workshop we made a lovely colourful mess in Mr McGovern’s class, but the children created some astonishing drawings in the process. The best drawing will be honoured by being featured on the Solar Dynamics Observatory site, and a package of solar outreach materials from NASA Goddard will be presented to the winning child. Many thanks to Mr Dodd for helping with the solar viewing on the 14th and facilitating the SDO drawing workshop on the 15th. Thanks also to Karl O’Broin for technical assistance on the day.
March 19th was actually Sun Earth Day 2011 – I took my solar telescope to the green at Sans Souci Wood to share the view of Active Region 1175 on the solar disk. Members of the astronomy group turned up and I also shared the view with some neighbours and parents who came along. Sun Earth Day posters and NASA STEREO fridge magnets were give to each attendee.
Earlier that morning I had observed the largest prominence I have ever seen on the western limb of the sun. I shared that sketch with the children and adults that arrived to give them some idea of the awesome power of the sun that can be seen if you have the correct equipment.
You must never ever look at the sun if you do not have totally safe equipment. The sun is dangerous; never take a chance looking at it by eye or with an ordinary telescope. You will be bringing the all the suns light and heat into your eye and will be blinded for life.
Play the slide show