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Reaching for the Sun

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  • UserDr Helen Mason OBE (Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics)
  • ClockTuesday 07 November 2023, 20:30-22:00
  • HousePeterhouse Theatre.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Reem Alhassan.

You are cordially invited to the Kelvin Club’s second talk of the term, which will take place on Tuesday 7th November. Wine, cheese, and other refreshments will be served in the Lubbock Room at Peterhouse from 8:30 pm for an 8:45 pm start. Dr Helen Mason will be speaking on the subject of ‘Reaching for the Sun’.

The Sun, our star, is just moving towards the most active phase of its eleven year cycle. We’ve had several large solar flares recently. Many solar space observatories have been watching the Sun over the past few decades: SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), Hinode and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. NASA ’s Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 and ESA ’s Solar Orbiter was launched in February 2020. These satellites have travelled closer to the Sun than ever before, to study the solar wind and the source regions on the Sun, producing some fascinating results.

This talk will review what we have learnt about our dynamic Sun, in particular, what we know about sunspots, solar active regions, flares, the solar wind and how the Sun affects the Earth’s environment (space weather). SunSpaceArt, led by Helen Mason, is a team of scientists and artists who have worked with thousands of children and teachers across the UK ‘Today, I loved this lesson because the science and art inspired me’ (child).

Speaker Biography: Dr Helen Mason is a solar scientist at the University of Cambridge. Her field of research is solar physics, in particular the ultraviolet and X-ray spectrum of the Sun. She has worked on many joint UK, NASA , ESA and Japanese space projects including SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), Hinode, SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) and IRIS . Recent solar space observations have completely changed our view of the Sun. NASA ’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA ’s Solar Orbiter are travelling closer to the Sun than ever before to improve our understanding of the Sun, solar wind and its interaction with the Earth’s environment.

Helen has always been keen to convey her passion for solar physics to the public and to students. She has given many public lectures and worked closely with schools. She has participated in several radio and TV programmes, for example BBC4 ’s ‘Seven Ages of Starlight’ and BBC R4 ’s ‘In Our Time – Solar Wind’ (2020).

Helen works closely with teachers and students throughout the UK, most recently leading the project, funded by STFC , which brings scientists and artists together to run school STEAM (STEM + Arts) workshops. In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. In 2018, she was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Annie Maunder Medal for Outreach. In 2020, the SunSpaceArt team won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Space Achievement in Education and Outreach.

Please ask for directions to the Theatre at the Peterhouse Porters Lodge on Trumpington St. All are welcome.

This talk is part of the Kelvin Club - Peterhouse Scientific Society series.

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