Dr Lucie Green of UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory is outreach co-ordinator for IHY in the UK.
She explains "Many people imagine the Sun to be a docile disc in the sky. In reality it is a seething fireball of high-energy explosions.
Sometimes these explosions throw off huge clouds of debris, known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These can be ejected in any direction, but some come directly towards the Earth, posing a threat to astronauts, satellites and even ground-based electricity distribution systems."
The more we understand about the way the Sun relates to its environment, the better we can protect humanity from this 'space weather'. In the coming year, there will be opportunities for schools to become involved in the education programme through visits by scientists, talks and specially designed workshops that look at the way the Sun influences the Earth’s magnetic bubble.