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Andy Breen - solar guides


Hi, my name's Andy Breen:


It is with great sadness we report the premature death of Andy on the 9th December 2011.


Image of Andy BreenWhat do you do?

I work at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales.


I use radio measurements from telescopes in the Arctic to study the solar wind. I spend two months in the north of Norway each summer - the good thing about being up there is that I can observe the Sun 24 hours a day, as it never sets in the summer. The bad thing is that it's hard to know when to sleep! It's very beautiful in the Arctic and there are a lot of animals; once I saw an Elk (Moose) just outside my office window and another time I saw an arctic fox.

Image of the peak of Kiruna
Aberystwyth Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Image of an arctic fox


Do you like travelling?

I do really enjoy travelling. I was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and grew up in Sunderland, but I work with people from all over the world - USA, Japan, India, Germany and Europe.

Image of Andy by a telescope in Fiji

Telescopes in Fiji, Japan


Image of an auroraHow did you get interested in science?

When I was about 12, I was out walking the dog one night and I saw the northern lights - the aurora. It was beautiful and I wanted to know what it was. Then, about three years later, I saw an aurora again, this time in the west of Scotland. I still really wanted to know what it was, so I decided to study space science at university. I still don't know all the 'why's and hows' about aurorae, but it's fun trying to work it out.


Image of some boats in the seaWhat do you do besides work?

I've got an old 'Albacore' dinghy, which I sail in the summer. I also do a lot of photography, read a lot and listen to music (generally loud music!). I'm fascinated by local history and I’m building a model of part of the old harbour in Aberystwyth.


Image of Arthur EddingtonWho is your favourite scientist?

Arthur Eddington - the man who worked out where the Sun's energy came from. It is said that he was out walking with a friend one night. His friend looked up at the stars and said how beautiful they were. He replied "yes, indeed, but tonight I'm the only one who understands how they shine" - it must feel amazing to have found out something that no one else knows. I'm still waiting to discover something that big!


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