The Secret Life of the Sun
An Introduction to Solar Physics

The Sun is a marvel of physics. At its core, under immense pressure and scorching temperatures, hydrogen atoms undergo nuclear fusion releasing a tremendous amount of energy. This energy slowly makes its way outward, battling its way through layers of hot plasma, before radiating out into space as light and heat. The Sun’s influence extends far beyond its visible surface. Solar winds, a stream of charged particles, whip out from the Sun impacting Earth. Recent auroras seen at the observatory are proof of these interactions. Powerful Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) can also disrupt satellites as well as power grids here on Earth.

Semi-retired physics professor, Mike Stafford, returned to the Martz-Kohl Observatory to help us understand solar physics in a non-mathematical way while sharing the wonder that is our closest star. Mike taught at Penn State University full time and Gannon University as an adjunct for 37 years. Mike is a pilot, a licensed parachute rigger, and expert skydiver with 3,700 jumps! Mike says, “as a physicist, interested in everything, I am able to speak on any subject, sometimes coherently.”


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