Astronomy Lecture: Our Explosive Sun: New Views of the Nearest Star
Featuring Images of the Largest Explosions in the Solar System
April 20, 2011
7 p.m.

satellite photo of solar flares
Solar flares are sudden releases of energy that occur when magnetic fields on the sun's surface get tangled and 'reconnect'

As part of the 12th annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, astronomer Thomas Berger, Ph.D., from Lockheed Martin's
Solar & Astrophysics Lab
, will discuss Our Explosive Sun: New Views of the Nearest
Star & The Largest Explosions in the Solar System
, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Recent satellite missions are giving scientists dramatic new views of the Sun and the huge magnetic explosions in its outer layers that cause flares and the ejections of huge masses of superheated gas. For
example, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite launched in 2010, is producing images of the Sun's million-degree outer atmosphere--the corona--with new telescopes that produce the fastest movies of the Sun ever taken. Dr. Berger will take us on a tour through our Sun's atmosphere with images and movies from these missions and show why the Sun continues to fascinate and perplex both scientists and the public.

An astrophysicist at the Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Dr. Berger specializes in designing and using telescopes and other instruments to observe the Sun's magnetic fields and outer atmosphere. He studied physics and engineering as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and originally planned on a career in aeronautical engineering. But during graduate education at Stanford University, he became fascinated by the physics of the Sun and he hasn't looked back since. He has been a principal investigator on several NASA grants to study the Sun using ground-based solar telescopes, and is currently a co-investigator on the Japanese/US/UK Hinode space mission.

The free lecture series is sponsored by the Foothill College Astronomy Program, NASA Ames Research Center, SETI Institute and Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Past lectures from the series are available online in MP3-format.

Visitors must purchase a campus parking permit for $2 from yellow dispensers in student lots. Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. For more information, access or call (650) 949-7888.
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Special Notice: Parking permit is required at all times. Purchase permit for $2 from yellow dispensers in any student lot.