Free solar talk, viewing session July 14
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The public is invited to learn more about the sun at a free lecture and observation session called "The Sun in the Year of Solar Maximum" beginning at noon, Saturday, July 14, in Lecture Room 1 of Van Allen Hall.
Steven Spangler, University of Iowa professor of physics and astronomy, notes that the sun has an 11-year "heartbeat'" that controls the indicators of solar activity. The cycle should reach its maximum in the next year, meaning this is the optimum time for taking a look at the sun, our nearest and most important star. Sunspots, prominences, and explosions on the sun will be more common than they will be for several years.
This July 14 public event consists of two parts. First, a noon talk about the sun will be held in Lecture Room 1 of Van Allen Hall. Spangler will describe what we know about the sun, the nature of the 11-year solar cycle, and phenomena, such as sunspots, that are much more numerous at solar maximum. He will also introduce phenomena that can be seen through telescopes during the subsequent observing session.
The second part of the event—the observing session—will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on the roof of Van Allen Hall using several specialized solar telescopes. Each telescope will be adjusted to emphasize a somewhat different feature of the sun, making it worthwhile for participants to check out more than one. With luck, visitors may see a solar flare (large explosion near a sunspot) during the observing session.
The event will be hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In case of overcast skies, the observing session will be held at 1 p.m., Sunday, July 15. For further information, contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy at 319-335-1686.