Solar flares dazzle at Mills Observatory

Solar experts from the University of Dundee joined citizen scientists to observe the mysteries of our Sun at Mills Observatory this week.

Members of the public were invited to experience a solar storm in virtual reality and view spectacular images of the Sun captured by the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the Wednesday Wonders series held by the University in collaboration with Leisure and Culture Dundee.

Experts such as Dr Alexander Russell, a lecturer in Applied Mathematics at the University, were on hand to answer any questions the budding astronomers had about the 4.5-billion-year-old star.

He said, “The Sun is a mysterious world where magnetism produces beautiful structures. It also produces violent space weather that can create dramatic Northern Lights and harm satellites, astronauts and power grids.

“Dundee is a key part of the global effort to solve mysteries about our star and we were glad to share our inspiring observations and scientific challenges with visitors at the Mills as it is not safe to observe the Sun directly with or without an optical aid.”

Ken Kennedy, from Dundee Astronomical Society, said, “We were delighted to see so many engaged visitors turn up and bring along future physics students. There was a remarkable interest in the aurora and noctilucent clouds, both of which seemed to catch the imagination of many I spoke to.”

Those interested will get another chance to view the Sun again and ‘Meet the Experts’ at Dundee Science Centre on Saturday, 12th August. 

Wednesday Wonders is a series of free events with interactive activities open to the public, part of the ongoing Outer Space | Inner Space project - an interdisciplinary collaboration by scientists from the University who are using technology to make the cutting-edge research from the School of Life Sciences accessible to all. 


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University of Dundee
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Email: d.younger@dundee.ac.uk