Eyes to the sky on solar day By Andrea Kellett

please credit Jamie Pole ISS Sun 31dec2017.jpg

Holy sunspots! Now this is something to sink your stargazing teeth into - on March 24 the not-for-profit Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society is hosting a solar day at the Briars Astronomy Centre in Mount Martha, and it’s free to attend.

This is your chance to observe the sun with special solar telescopes and to learn all about the sun, including how sundials work and how to tell the time from the sun. As society member Tony Nightingale explains, solar day is an instructional and demonstrative day for the public and society members. You can even take part in practical exercises, including constructing a sundial.

“This event is part of our commitment to community outreach,” Tony says. “Our telescopes can view distant objects such as stars, nebulae, planets and galaxies and close-up vision of the sun and moon. On the day, viewers may see solar flares and sunspots.”

Solar flares are large explosions on the surface of the sun. Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface about the size of the Earth.

The Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society solar day starts at 1pm and will be a fun, family-oriented day, with society members on hand to answer questions. The society also holds monthly public viewing nights and talks (on the first Friday of each month); viewing nights for schools and community groups; and regular astronomy education courses. More at mpas.asn.au


*Did you know the visible part of the sun is about 5500C, while temperatures in the core reach more than 15million degrees, driven by nuclear reactions? You would need to explode 100 billion tons of dynamite a second to match the energy produced by the sun, according to NASA.