The Sun shines on Glastonbury, UK, in summer 2010
'Wow, that's amazing!' - sunshine at Glastonbury, yes, but they were actually talking about seeing the Sun through an H-alpha telescope.
Sometimes as astronomers we forget the thrill of looking through a telescope for the first time, but this is what happened at the Festival this year. We also had the night-time telescopes out to look at the beautiful full Moon. A double whammy for some was to see both to see the Sun and the Moon within a few hours of each other.
We were part of the Sunworshippers team, led by archeo-astronomer Nick Yellop. They have a mobile planetarium and both Hydrogen-Alpha and ordinary astronomical telescopes and their remit is to give astronomers and astro-physicists a platform for public outreach in places that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with such a subject. The emphasis is of course on our Sun; how ancient cultures viewed it and what we know about it today.
Dr Helen Mason, part of the Sun|trek team is ‘passionate about the Sun’. She has worked on many solar satellite projects including SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) and Hinode and currently the latest Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). She thoroughly enjoyed explaining the workings of our nearest star to the hundreds of passersby who were captivated by their first view of the Sun through a specialist solar telescope. Safety is of course paramount and clear explanations were given, especially to the young, about the dangers of viewing the Sun through anything other than proper solar filters and the dangers if this advice were ignored.
Ninian Boyle from Astronomy Know How (www.AstronomyKnowHow.com), a writer and educator in the subject and himself a very experienced amateur astronomer, was also part of the Sunworshippers team. What better way to spend a few sunny days than to share our passion for astronomy and solar physics with the folk (young and old) at the largest summer music festival in the world.
Helen Mason and Ninian Boyle
Photo credit: Sandy Greenway
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