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Solarfest at Dunsink Observatory (19-20 June 2015)

Abstracts on Talks



Our Sun – Friend or Foe? by Terry Moseley

Abstract: Our Sun’s heat and light is crucial for our existence here on Earth: without it, we could not survive. We also know some of its dangers, ranging from sunburn to the risks to astronauts of long exposure to high energy solar radiation. But does it also pose major dangers to ordinary
people here on Earth, and if so what? And what can we do about them?  This talk will look at how our Sun works, how we depend on it, how it affects the Earth and influences our lives, and what major dangers it may also pose in the future.

Terry Moseley has been an active amateur astronomer for over 50 years.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; was President of the Irish Astronomical Association for a record 10 years; and was founding President of the Irish Federation of Astronomy Societies. He also served as Interregnum Director of Armagh Planetarium. He is interviewed by the media and lectures regularly on astronomy throughout Ireland; writes on astronomy in various publications; and has
led major groups from Ireland to view Total Solar Eclipses in Bulgaria, Turkey and China. He is astronomy and eclipse advisor to The Independent Traveller tour company. He was honoured by the International Astronomical Union by the naming of Minor Planet “16693 Moseley”



A Flying Visit To The Sun by Prof. Peter Gallagher

Abstract: On March 20, 2015 a spectacular solar eclipse raced across the ocean between Ireland and Greenland. This gave solar physicists an opportunity to observe the faint atmosphere of the Sun. A team of solar physicists from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Hawaii and Aberystwyth University flew resolution imaging system onboard an Irish Air Corps plane to make high resolution images of the solar atmosphere. In this talk, I will describe the expedition and show some of the images obtained.

Prof. Peter Gallagher, is Head of Solar Physics and Space Weather Group at Trinity College Dublin. His reseach is primarly concerned with understanding the fundamental physics of solar storms and their impacts on Earth. He has a long association with ESA and NASA and leads the Irish LOFAR radio telescope project.

Prof. Gallagher received a BSc (HONS) in physics and mathematics from University College Dublin in 1995, followed by an MSc (Distinction) in optoelectronics and image processing and a PhD in solar physics from Queens University Belfast. He then spent six years in the US, firstly as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Big Bear Solar Observatory in California and then as a Scientist and Senior Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.



Looking at the Sun with Radio-eyes by Dr. Pietro Zucca

 Abstract: Since the dawn of humanity the Sun has been a source of fascination,admiration and devotion. The Suns motion was well known to early astronomers, as well as the presence of dark spots on its surface. Optical light detected by the human eye and subsequently optical telescopes were used to observe the Sun. Only recently we extended our observations of the Sun across the wider electromagnetic spectrum from Gamma-rays to radio waves. We will make a journey through the important discoveries of these new observing windows focusing on radio waves, highlighting the challenges for the future solar observations.

Dr. Pietro Zucca is a postdoctoral research fellow in Solar Physics at Trinity College Dublin. His research is primarily focused on radio observations of the solar atmosphere in order to study shocks generated by coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Dr. Zucca received a B.Sc.in [1] astronomy at the University of Padua in 2008 and a M.Sc. in Astrophysics at the university of Bologna in 2010 followed by a PhD in solar physics in Trinity College Dublin. He collaborates with the Observatory of Paris since 2013.



A Century of Ground Breaking Solar Astronomy by Dr. Eamon Scullion

Abstract: Ireland has a remarkable and yet, somewhat understated, history with respect to the advancement of fundamental sciences, most notably mathematics, physics and technological advance, which culminate in perfect harmony in astrophysics. Being Ireland’s first dedicated scientific institute, Dunsink Observatory has long since played a special role in this heritage. It has been home to one of the greatest mathematicians of our time (Sir William Rowan Hamilton) and throughout this last Century, it has been directly affiliated with easily one of the worlds greatest discoveries, i.e. observational proof of Albert Einsteins theory of general relativity, as a result of a total solar eclipse expedition. Our intrigue with our nearest star, the Sun and our place in the solar system, has only deepened since that infamous 1919 eclipse expedition. The Sun is a staggering million times more massive that the Earth, a number that is not easy to comprehend and the more we look at it the more we discover hidden in its finer details, in the explosive activity going on there. In this talk, I will outline how our view of the Sun has changed over the last Century, to reveal a world rich in fundamental physics and arising in a host of phenomena, that are detectible only with the most powerful solar telescopes, where Irish physicists continue to have a leading role. Finally, I will outline what the key questions are, which we solar physicists will want to answer in the future and just how we plan to go about answering them.

Dr. Scullion is a post-doctoral research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin funded through the Irish Research Council. He has a strong background in observational solar astrophysics and in 2012 was part of a team who discovered the existence of magnetic tornadoes on the Sun, thought to be responsible in part, for the heating of the outer solar atmosphere (solar corona) which is one of the biggest puzzles in solar and astrophysics. The talk will illustrate exquisite details of the surface of the Sun as seen by these powerful telescopes and explain why studies of the Sun are nowadays such an exciting area of modern astronomy.