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See the Sun in a New Light: Celebrate International Sun-Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 11, 2014    
Science, Education, Travel Editors. Images available.
Contact: emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.707.9837

RALEIGH — We are all aware that the Sun “shines,” warming our planet and enabling life to thrive. But did you know that the Sun makes up 99.86 percent of the mass of the solar system? And you can fit  1.3 million Earths inside the Sun! Learn about current research on the Sun and how it relates to the evolution of our solar system and life on Earth when you celebrate International Sun-Day with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Sunday, June 22, from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Join Museum astronomers and Raleigh Astronomy Club members for an afternoon of solar viewing, illuminating presentations, and activities for all ages. Free.

From 12:00 to 3:30 p.m. on the plaza in front of the Museum’s main entrance, guests can make their own paper plate sundial and learn how to plot the position of the Sun throughout the day. Guests will also learn more about solar navigation and practice using an Ottomani Sun Compass a small, handmade compass that uses the Sun’s shadow to determine East-West direction.

At 1:00 p.m. in the SECU Daily Planet Theater, join Dr. Rachel Smith, Director of the Museum’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Lab, as she presents “Journey to the Center of the Solar System: An Intimate View of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.” Smith will discuss the current Solar Dynamics Observatory space mission and its critical role in helping us understand the detailed workings of the Sun, how the Sun affects the habitability of our planet, and how scientists are using this information to better understand the potential for long-term life beyond our solar system.

At 1:30 pm, join NASA/JPL Ambassador Tony Rice for an up-close study of the Sun’s structure during “Viewing our Sun Inside and Out with the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).” Learn about the Sun from the inside-out, starting deep within the Sun’s interior and moving through its stormy outer atmosphere. Guests will view the Sun and Earth with a new perspective through state-of-the-art 3D imagery, and will  learn how NASA’s STEREO program and the joint NASA/European Space Agency SOHO mission are providing researchers new insights needed to better forecast solar events on Earth.

End the day with solar viewing from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Solar telescopes will be available for public viewing on the Plaza in front of the Museum’s main entrance, and on the rooftop Terrace of the Museum’s Nature Research Center. Visitors will have the opportunity to examine the Sun’s surface features — such as sun spots, solar prominences and eruptions — through white light and Hydrogen-alpha solar telescopes.

International Sun-Day is held on the Sunday nearest to the summer solstice, which is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the entire year, marking the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, the solstice falls on June 21.  

Presentations will be held as scheduled, while solar viewings are subject to weather.

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, June 11, 2014