The Sun seems a staid, reliable star. Five billion years old and with another five billion years to go, it should be in the midst of a calm middle age. Actually, though, the Sun seethes with activity. Violent eruptions - the most energetic events in the solar system - send billions of tons of high-energy particles into interplanetary space. When they're aimed at Earth, these solar storms damage satellites, disrupt communications and terrestrial power systems, and treat humans to brilliant auroral displays. Solar activity, closely associated with sunspots, varies in a 22-year cycle whose origins and regularity still are not understood. But a host of new spacecraft is giving an unprecedented look at the star. Spacecraft have flown over the Sun's poles, taken 3-dimensional pictures of solar eruptions, imaged the Sun's surface with better resolution than a high-definition TV, probed the solar interior, and even observed events on the backside of the Sun. This lecture explores human beings new understandings of the Sun and of the intimate link between Sun and Earth.
Wolfson is the Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics at Middlebury College, where he also teaches Climate Change in Middlebury's Environmental Studies Program. He completed his undergraduate work at MIT and Swarthmore College, graduating from Swarthmore with a double major in physics and philosophy. He holds a master's degree in environmental studies from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in physics from Dartmouth.
The fee to attend is $20. For more information and to register, visit greenmtnacademy.org or call Veronica VanDerMark at 802-768-8525.