Jul 12

Action Sun at St Pauls Senior Girls School Dublin 12 - What's up for July 2012 from Jane Houston Jones

3rd class girls St Pauls Senior Girls NS Greenhills Dublin 12
We built the sun at school

3rd class girls St Pauls Senior Girls NS Greenhills Dublin 12
We built the sun at school

St Pauls Senior Girls National School in Greenhill’s Dublin 12 is just a few minutes’ walk from the house where I grew up.  It was fortuitous to have the opportunity to carry out my third Action Sun for a school in this area.

On June 25th 47 young girls from third class, took part in building the sun. This was a very positive group all eager to get going and get busy. Streamers of orange and red paper flew through the air in vast amounts. In a short time the photosphere began to grow in the schools courtyard.

The activity of Action Sun supports the school curriculum in its art as it uses mixed media to create the sun. The program uses paint and paper to convey activity and explosive movement on the solar disc. Action Sun also supports primary school art as it enables children to use the characteristics of the materials to make structures and features on the solar disc. Making the sun in this way is both creative and explorative. Learning a little science through the arts facilitates the use of many kinds of intelligences.  The learning process in the making is as valuable as the finished suns. Textures and spatial   organisation also comes into the creation of this work. The girls at St Pauls School were very good at working as a group, helping each other out. They also made good decisions during the activity which showed they were an excellent team. This is kinesthetic learning, learning by doing.

Action Sun compliments science in the primary school curriculum on several levels.   A short information talk in between making the suns features informs the children about our suns role in the solar system. We talk about the scale of the sun and the Earth. We talk about the energy of the sun and its function in relation to the other planets.  The mini talks make sure that the children understand that the sun is our main source of heat and light.  By building the sun the children learn by hands on investigation. The children literally explore the physical features of the sun with their hands in mini scale. A quick review of the evaluation sheets shows the quality of the learning. Several children not only drew sketches of the complex sun but also put in arrows to the different features and labelled them all correctly. The action of throwing the paper was very popular, signing their names was also a highlight and for some children carrying the sun into the hall was the stand out moment of the day.

When I look at the sun in my solar telescope I see a huge amount of detail and very often in the past I have shared that view with children. However it takes a long time to show this view to a large group as the sun presents as a small disc with tiny features. It is difficult for children to comprehend the enormous scale of our nearest star.  I put Action Sun together to bridge that gap and help more people achieve some understanding of this wonderful star in safety with a big fun element.

The features of the sun itself were totally new to this young group, but at the end of the programme words like photosphere, chromosphere, filaments, prominences and sunspots were all a little more familiar. We closed our eyes at the end of the build and held our faces up to the sun to feel its heat and remind ourselves that it takes eight minutes for its light to get to us here on Earth, a 93 million mile smile. Building the sun took about 90 minutes. The 7.9 X 4.9 meter tarpaulin was pre prepared at home using four litres of matte black masonry paint. During  the activity we used approx 3,500 individual pre cut  pieces of crepe paper ,15 litres of washable  PVA glue, 6 litres of yellow paint , 1 litre of red paint,  plus the energy of forty seven eight and nine year old third class girls.

My thanks to Sarah Jayne Reid for setting up Action Sun at St Pauls and to Phil Curran for all her efforts prior to, during and post the build. Thanks to Ms Keating, Ms Daly and Principal Sr Maureen for their support during the activity.  NASA Sun Earth Day bookmarks, posters and other educational material were provided to the teachers.  The solar feature data for this Action Sun was an observation of the disc made from my PST earlier that morning.  The Solar Dynamics Observatory website was pointed out to the girls so they could continue to watch the sun safely.


More images on my blog here

Whats Up for July 2012 from Jane Houston Jones

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Apr 12

News from Ireland

As the city gears up for Dublin: City of Science 2012, we take a journey with amateur astronomer and artist Deirdre Kelleghan whose equal passion for science and art is demonstrated in her work. Deirdre is a Discover Science and Engineering Science Ambassador 2012, Vice Chair of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies, National Co-ordinator for Astronomers Without Borders, as well as being UNAWE rep in Ireland. Deirdre will also be contributing to the Dublin City Public Libraries programme of events for Dublin: City of Science 2012.

The city on a sun drenched day.  The Spire reflects and swirls the vibrant life of Dubliners mingled with mirrored   clouds and the dominant blue light from our nearest star. Flower sellers petals are jollied by the brightness.  Mica within the Liffey’s walls sparkle; ice cream melts down smiling faces. Celtic skin hovers in winters long lost vitamin, a gift from the sun, 93 million miles from the city. We enjoy our sophisticated fully functioning star, down here on one of the left over bits from its formation.

When we analyse light from our sun or any star we can see the arrangement of elements within its spectra.  Looking into a star’s pattern of elements is like looking at the code of that star, its personal finger print, its DNA.  Humans are bound together by the same elements which were created during   the birth and death of stars. Our essence is ultimately recycled throughout unimaginable eons of time, black space and accreted molecular clouds.

Read More here On Life and Light full version

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Mar 12

Large solar flares generate geomagnetic storm

Source: ESA

A large sunspot region (AR1429) unleashes an X5 class flare.
Image credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO/SDO.

A pair of unusually large solar flares early yesterday generated a Coronal Mass Ejection that will reach Earth around mid-day today. It will likely cause at least a strong geomagnetic storm that could affect satellites in space and trigger auroral displays.(read more)

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Dec 11

Comet Lovejoy Plunges into the Sun ... and Survives

Source: NASA Science News

Sungrazing Comet Lovejoy has shocked astronomers by surviving its "death plunge" into the sun. Must-see movies of the comet's passage through the sun's atmosphere are featured at Science@NASA.(read more)

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Sep 11

NASA's spacecraft observes new characteristics of solar flares

Source: NASA/SDO

Sun at 171 Angstrom. Image credit: NASA/SDO.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, has provided scientists new information about solar flares indicating an increase in strength and longevity that is more than previously thought.

Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. They are the solar system's largest explosive events and are seen as bright areas on the sun. Their energy can reach Earth's atmosphere and affect operations of Earth-orbiting communication and navigation satellites.

Using SDO's Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) instrument, scientists have observed that radiation from solar flares continue for up to five hours beyond the main phase. The new data also show the total energy from this extended phase of the solar flare's peak sometimes has more energy than the initial event. (read more)

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Aug 11

Sunspot Breakthrough

Source: NASA Science  News

Based on the data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the movie shows
a sunspot emerging from depth in February 2011 (click on image above).
Source credit: Thomas Hartlep and Scott Winegarden, Stanford University.

A new breakthrough in sunspot detection could provide days of extra early warning for strong solar storms.(read more)

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Aug 11

Sun's activity is growing

Credit: NASA SDO - YouTube

In the early hours of July 30, 2011 a fairly strong, but brief, M9-class solar flare occurred on Active Region 1261. Because it was brief it appears not to have hurled a large coronal mass ejection (CME) outwards. Additional analysis are underway.

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Jul 11

SDO Spots Extra Energy in the Sun's Corona

Source: NASA/SDO

Jets, known as spicules, captured in an SDO image on April 25, 2010.
Image credits: NASA/SDO/AIA

Like giant strands of seaweed some 32,000 miles high, material shooting up from the sun sways back and forth with the atmosphere. In the ocean, it's moving water that pulls the seaweed along for a ride; in the sun's corona, magnetic field ripples called Alfvén waves cause the swaying.

For years these waves were too difficult to detect directly, but NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is now able to track the movements of this solar "seaweed" and measure how much energy is carried by the Alfvén waves. The research shows that the waves carry more energy than previously thought, and possibly enough to drive two solar phenomena whose causes remain points of debate: the intense heating of the corona to some 20 times hotter than the sun's surface and solar winds that blast up to 1.5 million miles per hour.(read more)

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Mar 11

The Big Moon Ball Project & NASA Solar System Exploration Page Honour for Me

Children from St Cronans Stargazers draw moon phases

The Big Moon Ball Project – A work in progress

The Moon? The Moon? How on Earth do you explain the Moon to small children?  In many other talks I had done so in graphic from and with images but wanted to try something different. I figured I would have a go at an interactive workshop in a field, as one would of course.

Made me a Moon ball and put it on a stand, borrowed a super two million candle torch, put it on a stand.  Then I invited my new astronomy group St Cronans Stargazers to join me at our usual place.  As it was midterm a small but smiling group turned up, perfect for a first run!  We pretended the torch was the sun and the children were the Earth and I became the Moon.  For the first orbit of the Earth I spoke about the phase they see from the Earth as they looked at me (the Moon Ball) moving from New to First Quarter, then Full, then Last Quarter, then back to New.

The children got the idea very quickly as the sun (torch) illuminated the phases while they (the Earth) turned in unison in the field at the end of my road. The Big Moon Ball beamed the moons phases into their eyes.  Clip boards and paper were provided for the second orbit of the Earth .The children sketched the four main Moon phases as they happened and wrote down the names. The parents were very helpful, standing at the points of the phases and also helping the children see their clipboards and their drawings in the dark.

Of course this workshop would be so much more powerful if the Moon was in the sky at the same time. I am continuing to develop the activity; it suits the Irish cloudy sky syndrome and is also an indoor workshop.  Every child wanted to hold the Moon Ball and help put it in the car afterwards. A whole bunch of fun was over in a blink the children had lovely practical drawings for their folders, and were on their way to understanding the Moons movements.

The Big Moon Ball Project was welcomed by Engineers Ireland as part of Engineers Week Ireland
Huge thanks to my husband Bernard for help with the sun and for taking the photographs.
The Moon Ball is getting an upgrade, the far side is being painted in now and the near side is developing more details, craters, rays and mountains.  More images on my website here

Cool News /  Hot Stuff

NASA Solar System Exploration Page I am really delighted and honoured to have  my Solar Dynamics Observatory  inspired painting on the site for the month of March ,check it out. !!

Deirdre Kelleghan


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Feb 11

SDO captures huge prominence of the Sun

Credit: NASA/SDO

When a rather large M 3.6 class flare occurred near the edge of the Sun on Feb. 24, 2011, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted for 90 minutes. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event in extreme ultraviolet light. Because SDO images are high definition, the team was able to zoom in on the flare and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless.(download the video)

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Feb 11

SDO Sundog Mystery

Source: NASA Science News

One year ago, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory amazed observers when it destroyed a sundog en route to orbit. A new analysis of the event is shedding light on the surprising way rocket shock-waves interact with clouds.(read more)

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Jan 11

The Sun popped off two simultaneous events

Source: NASA-Solar Dynamic Observatory

Double event on the Sun. Credit: NASA/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught the action in freeze-frame splendor when the Sun popped off two events at once on Jan. 28, 2011. These simultaneous flares are usually called “sympathetic” flares.

Scientists that study the Sun have observed nearly simultaneous solar flares occurring in completely different areas of the Sun since long ago, but it was thought these near-synchronous explosions in the solar atmosphere were too far apart to be connected. Development of space observatories that allow pictures of the Sun viewed from different perspectives has allowed to connect these events to the lines of the Sun's magnetic field. (read source)

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Jan 11

A Hole in the Sun's Corona

Credits: NASA

NASA has released a video of the Solar Dynamics Observatory showing a solar corona hole observed on January 10th, 2011. Coronal holes are areas of the sun's surface that are the source of open magnetic field lines that head way out into space. They are also the source regions of the fast solar wind, which "blows" at a relatively steady clip of about 3 million km/h.(view at NASA)

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