Young as­tronomers study sun with care

STARGAZ­ERS JOIN IN SUN EARTH DAYS 2011

Bray People - - NEWS - MARY FOG­A­RTY

YOUNG AS­TRONOMERS at St. Cro­nan's in Bray looked at the sun re­cently, had plenty of fun, learned a lot and cre­ated some amaz­ing draw­ings.

St. Cro­nan's Star Gaz­ers were par­tic­i­pat­ing in Sun Earth Days 2011 with the help of lo­cal woman Deirdre Kel­leghan, as­tronomer, artist and writer.

‘I am very proud of my as­tron­omy group here in Bray,' said Deirdre. ‘ They are a great bunch of en­thused chil­dren, par­ents and teach­ers who de­light in learn­ing a lit­tle bit of as­tron­omy.'

A blue sky greeted Deirdre on the first in the se­ries of days, when she de­liv­ered a short talk on the fea­tures we see when we ob­serve the sun an a h-al­pha te­le­scope.

This was fol­lowed up by show­ing the boys a DVD sup­plied by NASA God­dard, ‘Jour­ney to the Stars,' nar­rated by Whoopi Goldberg.

‘ The boys who an­swered my sun ques­tions af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion re­ceived “Look­ing through the So­lar At­mos­phere” im­ages,' ex­plained Deirdre. ‘ We then went out­side to have a look at the sun for real in my spe­cial so­lar te­le­scope. We were very lucky to have a clear view of an Ac­tive Re­gions 1166, 1169, and 1172, on the so­lar disk and sev­eral promi­nences around the limb.'

The fol­low­ing day's ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude a so­lar draw­ing work­shop, for which so many turned up that they had to use floor-space.

‘We took a close look at some of the mag­i­cal im­ages taken by the So­lar Dy­nam­ics Ob­ser­va­tory ( a NASA te­le­scope out in space ) , ' ex­plained De irdre , adding that the group man­aged to make a ‘ lovely colour­ful mess' in Mr. McGovern's class­room dur­ing the work­shop, ‘ but the chil­dren cre­ated some as­ton­ish­ing draw­ings in the process.'

The best draw­ing will be hon­oured by be­ing fea­tured on the So­lar Dy­nam­ics Ob­ser­va­tory site, and a pack­age of so­lar outreach ma­te­ri­als from NASA God­dard will be pre­sented to the win­ning child.

For Sun Earth Day 2011 on March 19, Deirdre took her so­lar te­le­scope to the green at Sans Souci Wood to share the view of the Ac­tive Re­gion 1175 on the so­lar disk.

Mem­bers of the Star Gaz­ers turned up as well as some neigh­bours and par­ents who came along.

‘Ear­lier that morn­ing I had ob­served the largest promi­nence I have ever seen on the west­ern limb of the sun,' said Deirdre. ‘I shared that sketch with the chil­dren and adults that ar­rived to give them some idea of the awe­some power of the sun that can be seen if you have the cor­rect equip­ment.'

She con­cluded by warn­ing that you must never ever look at the sun if you do not have to­tally safe equip­ment. ‘ The sun is dan­ger­ous; never take a chance look­ing at it by the eye or with an or­di­nary te­le­scope. You will be bring­ing all the sun's light and heat into your eye and will be blinded for life.'

Deirdre Kel­leghan with her en­thu­si­as­tic young as­tronomers.

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