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"Living With a Star" Exhibition on Show at Armagh Planetarium


The surface of our active Sun, as seen in ultraviolet light,
and visitors enjoying the 3-D views of the Sun
at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in July 2007.
The Armagh Observatory is providing a special Living with a Star exhibition at the Armagh Planetarium, from Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 September. The display was produced in collaboration with researchers across the UK as part of the Observatory s contribution to International Heliophysical Year 2007/2008. It presents amazing 3-D images and movies of the Sun, our nearest star, as well as hands-on material to illustrate magnetic fields and ultraviolet light, and an interactive slide show and live images of the Sun.

This exciting exhibition, called "Living with a Star: Surviving near our Explosive Sun", was selected earlier this year for the Royal Society's prestigious Summer Science exhibition in London. It has since begun a tour of the island of Ireland with support from the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Discover Science and Engineering programme, first traveling to Newgrange for the Republic of Ireland's Heritage Week, and now to Armagh.

The aim of the exhibition is to show the wonderful variety of images of the Sun provided by modern spacecraft, and to illustrate how dependent we are on our nearest star, which is surprisingly and highly variable. Astronomers regularly see the Sun producing immense explosions called flares and coronal mass ejections, with energies equivalent to many millions of hydrogen bombs. The expelled hot gases travel towards the Earth as part of the solar wind at many millions of miles per hour, creating what scientists call "space weather". This can affect the Earth, damaging satellites and disrupting telecommunications and electrical power systems.

Astronomers from the Armagh Observatory will be available to explain the exhibit and to answer your questions about the Sun on Saturday 22 September from 13:30 to 16:30, and at other times during the week when schools or other groups of people have made a confirmed booking. To book please contact Armagh Planetarium, tel: 028-3752-3689, or e-mail infoat signarmaghplanet.com.

During Heritage Week, a large majority of the more than 10,000 visitors to the ancient solar observatory at Newgrange enjoyed the exhibition's interactive displays and the remarkable 3-D images of the Sun. Explanations of the phenomena were given by astronomer Miruna Popescu of the Armagh Observatory and by members of the Irish Astronomical Association. After leaving the Planetarium, the "Living with a Star" exhibition will spend a week at the W5 interactive discovery centre in Belfast's Odyssey Complex, before traveling to England.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Miruna Popescu at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; E-mail: mdpat signarm.ac.uk

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Last Revised: 2007 September 11th
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