The 2018 Robinson Lecture: Professor Louise Harra tells us about how astronomers research the Sun

The 2018 Robinson Lecture will be given by Professor Louise Harra of University College London.  Her topic is about the Solar Orbiter, a new spacecraft to be launched to study the Sun. It will be held in the Archbishop’s Palace in Armagh on Wednesday 22 November, 2017, starting at 7pm.  Tickets are available via the Visit Armagh website.

Professor Louise Harra

Armagh Observatory was founded in 1789 by Dr Richard Robinson (1708–1794), Baron Rokeby of Armagh, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (1765–1794).  The Robinson Medal and Lecture were established during the Observatory’s bicentenary celebrations in 1990 in memory of Primate Robinson.

In February 2019, a spacecraft will be launched from Cape Canaveral to explore unknown territory in our solar system.  It will take 3 years to reach its destination, where it will get closer to the Sun than ever before, slowly creeping out of the ecliptic plane to peer down at the poles of the Sun.  This is the first-time sensitive telescopes have been taken into this searingly hot zone.  Louise will describe the mission’s goals, how we will get there, and why we are doing it.  This is a challenging mission, and one of the reasons why it’s being done is to understand where, why and how winds and eruptions leave the Sun, and impact us here on Earth.  The talk will describe the reliance we all have in our day to day lives that can be disrupted by the Sun’s activity, and how in a few years time we’ll not only be looking at weather forecast, but also space weather forecasts.

Louise will also be presenting the Robinson School’s Lecture at Banbridge Academy on November 23.

Professor Louise Harra is solar physicist at University College London.  She was a pupil at Banbridge Academy and studied maths and physics at Queens University.  Her research has focused on understanding how flares and coronal mass ejections are triggered in the Sun, and how the solar wind forms and propagates through our Solar System.  She has been closely engaged with several spacecraft, involved in their operations, design, build and data analysis.  Louise is the principal investigator for the Hinode satellite (launched in 2006) Extreme-UV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), leading an international team of scientists.  She is also co-principal investigator of the Extreme-UV Imager on the ESA Solar Orbiter mission, due to be launched in 2019.

This post will also be followed by two articles written by Armagh Astronomer Gerry Doyle (available Nov 8 and 15, respectively) telling us more about the Sun and why we study it. 

 

Michael Burton

Director, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium