New Irish Telescope To Reveal Secrets Of The Sun

Aurora over Dunluce Castle located between Portballintrae and Portrush (March 2011). Image Martin McKenna,
Energy from the Sun drives our climate, forces ever-changing weather patterns, and ultimately provides the heat and light responsible that makes life possible on Earth.  

Despite this, the Sun can have more sinister effects due to its ejection of huge clouds of hot gas into space. While these solar storms can produce spectacular auroral displays, they can sometimes cause dropouts in telecommunications systems, failures of satellites, interruptions in electrical power supply networks, and errors in GPS signals.

"Recent strong solar storms have meant that the northern lights were spotted from our shores by people all over the island, but particularly in Northern Ireland," said David Moore, Chairman of Astronomy Ireland. "While they look beautiful, the aurora can also spell trouble for satellites and communications. Irish scientists may soon play a part in studying these solar storms so that we can better understand their effects."

Dr Peter Gallagher of Trinity College Dublin is heading the Irish section of a European-wide telescope project called LOFAR, in which Ireland will get its own specialised radio telescope, allowing us to see solar storms - and the rest of the Universe - in a way never before possible.

At Astronomy Ireland's Public Lecture on March 12th, Dr Gallagher will describe the source of solar storms, how the can effects the technologies that we rely on as part of our every-day lives, and how Irish scientists are using cutting-edge scientific instruments, such as the LOFAR radio telescope, to better forecast the effects of solar storms on Earth.

The March Lecture, Seeing Solar Storms from Ireland, will take place at 8pm on Monday, March 12th, in Trinity College Dublin.

A social reception will take place after the lecture in the nearby Lombard Inn where lecture attendees can meet Dr Gallagher and other astronomy enthusiasts.

Details of the March Lecture and tickets for it be found at or by calling (01) 890 11 11.