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East Antrim Astronomical Society Anniversary Lecture

"Living with a Star : Our Dynamic Sun"

Dr Robert W. Walsh

The guest speaker at the Anniversary Lecture on February 18th was Dr Robert W. Walsh from the University of Central Lancashire at Preston.

Dr Walsh is a Solar Physicist, and is attached to the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at that university, with the sun being his main field of research. On Wednesday 6th December 2000 he received a silver medal engraved with the words  “Scientist of the New Century” after lecturing in the Royal Institution of Great Britain Lectures, a very prestigious title to hold.


His lecture held in the Thompson Primary School, Ballyrobert, Co. Antrim,  entitled “Living with a Star: Our Dynamic Sun”. drew a good attendance and was much appreciated by members. Afterwards Dr Walsh generously talked to a range of enthusiasts  who stayed to enjoy a light supper as shown below:

Frank Toone and Eileen Morrison.

Brian Smyth and Robert Walsh

IAA President,Terry Moseley and EAAS Chairman

Dr Robert Walsh receives thanks from EAAS Chairman

Mr Walter Martin

Barry Graham and Lucinda McConnell


In the course of his lecture Dr Walsh explained that while our Sun may appear tranquil and constant it is in fact a seething ball of million degree ionised gas. With the advent of space-based solar observatories, we can now observe our closest star in greater detail than ever before. In particular the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (or SOHO), from its vantage point of 1.5 million km sunwards of the earth, allows us to monitor the Sun continuously twenty-four hours a day.

The Sun has just exited a period of maximum activity- this has a profound effect on the Sun’s outer atmosphere or corona. It is believed that it is the Sun’s strong magnetic field that is the driving force in this dynamic environment, heating the ionised gases to temperatures in excess of two million degrees as well as creating a wide range of solar phenomena.

This lecture brought EAAS members right up to date with the very latest solar observations as well as describe the physical processes believed to be operating. Shown Below Dr Welsh demonstrates images he downloaded from ESA satellites for EAAS members the same afternoon as the day of his lecture


With the very latest solar observations, Dr Walsh showed how its strong magnetic field creates a wealth of exotic solar phenomena ranging from high-rise magnetic arches to twisting and turning solar tornadoes.

Together we’ll run for cover from violent solar storms and try to predict the effect of space weather upon planet Earth.


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