Visit Blackpool


Sun - Monday 14 to Saturday 26 October (Winter Gardens, Olympia) – 6pm to 10pm 

A world premiere, SUN is a partnership between public artist Alex Rinsler and Prof. Robert Walsh, one of the UK’s leading solar physicists. SUN is a seven-metre diameter suspended sphere, presenting astrophysical data from NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory in stunning 360°. SUN displays several months in the life of our closest star but in tens of minutes of real time.

This continually evolving globe reveals the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light, a part of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond human sight. Specialised image enhancement techniques highlight the finer details and texture of our solar neighbour, which would otherwise be lost. Cycling through different ranges of temperature from a cool 4500 degrees to an impossibly hot 10 million degrees, SUN reveals our star in a completely new light.

From 7.30pm to 8.30pm each evening, an astronomer will be present for you to “Ask an Astronomer” all about SUN as well as other question them with other astronomical queries.

Education Workshops (FULLY BOOKED)

Education Workshops for local schools take place Tuesday 14 October to Friday 18 October.

Each workshop will begin with an exhibition tour & solar science session which will take up approximately 30mins of the school’s total 2 hour visit. The children will be asked to create simple fold out booklets in form of solar satellites which include artwork and writing.

Public Talks

All talks are accessible to a non-expert audience, and will include British Sign Language interpretation throughout the event.  Book your place here.

Thursday 17th October 2019 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Our Dynamic Sun
Dr Helen Mason (University of Cambridge)

The Sun, our star, is in a quiet phase of its eleven-year activity cycle, but we can expect some spectacular action in a few years’ time. Several solar space observatories have been watching the Sun over the past couple of decades: SoHO, Stereo, Hinode and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. NASA's Parker Solar Probe has just been launched (August 2018) and ESA's Solar Orbiter will be launched in 2020. These satellites will travel closer to the Sun than ever before. This talk will review what we have learnt about our dynamic Sun, in particular what we know (and don't yet know!) about sunspots, solar active regions and flares (the largest explosions of energy in our solar system).
Bio: Dr Helen Mason is a solar scientist at the University of Cambridge. She has worked on many solar space projects. In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. She has participated in many outreach projects and given science presentations to audiences at many venues, including the Royal Institution. She has participated in several TV programs, most recently BBC4's 'Seven Ages of Starlight'.

Friday 18th October 2019 7.30pm – 8.30pm
The Search for Extrasolar Planets and Extra-terrestrial Life in the Milky Way
Dr Mark Norris (University of Central Lancashire)

Astronomers are now discovering thousands of planets beyond our solar system. These often strange and distant worlds are termed extrasolar planets or exoplanets for short. They are very difficult to see directly with telescopes as exoplanets are hidden by the brightness of the host star. In this talk, Dr Norris will how explain how exoplanets are observed, what these planets are like, and what the prospects are for possibly detecting life on one of these new worlds in the coming years.
Bio: Dr. Mark Norris is an observational astronomer at the University of Central Lancashire studying how star clusters and galaxies form. He obtained his PhD at the University of Durham in 2008 and followed this up with four years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and three years at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, where he worked on galaxy surveys and commissioning new astronomical instruments. He moved to UCLan in 2015 where he helps to run Alston Observatory, one the UK’s best equipped public outreach observatories.

Thursday 24th October 2019 7.30pm – 8.30pm
When Galaxies Collide!
Dr Megan Argo (University of Central Lancashire)

Once upon a time we thought the Universe was static and unchanging.  These days of course, we know differently.   Join us as we look at what galaxies are made of, take a bird’s-eye view of our own Milky Way, look at what happens when gravity becomes irresistible, and end with a sneak preview of our own galaxy’s distant future.
Bio: Dr Megan Argo is an astrophysicist and science communicator.  In her day job she teaches astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire and uses a radio telescope the size of planet Earth to study galaxies crashing into each other.  Her current project, We Share the Same Moon, fuses science and storytelling to teach science in a creative way.

Friday 25th October 2019 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Living with a Star
Professor Robert Walsh (University of Central Lancashire)

Our Sun may appear tranquil and constant but is it in fact a seething ball of million degree-electrified gases. Recently the view of our closest star has been transformed due to dedicated, space-based observatories. Using the latest images and movies, Prof Walsh will track the flow of energy from the nuclear reactions at the heart of the star right down to our own home planet. Along the way we will psychoanalyse the Sun’s magnetic personality, surf along shock waves in the solar wind and run for cover from solar storms as we try to predict the effect of space weather upon the Earth.
Bio: Prof. Robert Walsh is a Professor of Solar Physics in the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). He is a leading expert on the analysis of space-based solar observations of the Sun. He has received a number of national awards for science communication during his career including the Royal Institution award of “Scientist of the New Century”. Currently Robert holds a prestigious fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to work with schools in Blackpool, using astronomy and astrophysics as means of increasing interest in science.  He is the co-creator with artist Alex Rinsler of SUN, an art installation project that is premiering at Lightpool 2019. Robert is also organizing a national competition this autumn for UK school children to name an exoplanet – that is, naming a planet that has been discovered around a star outside our own Solar System.

Sound: Ebe Oke and Feargal Mostyn Williams
Technical Production: Pufferfish
Special Effects: Matt Askey
AV: WarPro
Production Manager: Netty Miles
Solar Physics Researcher: Daniel Gordon Gass
Helen Schell
Dr Helen Mason
With support of public funding from Arts Council England and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and technical production by Pufferfish.
Co-commissioned by the Lightpool Festival, Blackpool and Light Up Lancaster.
In partnership with:        

** Images Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA science team