Sanquhar set for solar science talks as part of Summer Solstice Festival

Dumfries and Galloway will become a science hotspot later this month when a group of leading scientists present a series of lectures in Sanquhar on the theme ‘Our Sun, Our Star’. 

One of the key speakers is Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) President, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics.

The lectures have been organised as part of a summer solstice festival at Scotland’s Crawick Multiverse artland on June 24, 25 and 26, celebrating art, science and music.  The three day festival’s theme is the relationship between the earth and the Sun.

Speaking at Sanquhar Town Hall on June 24 as the festival opens, Dame Jocelyn will take a look at the scientist’s understanding of our universe today and how it has been represented in pictures, poetry and music.  Dame Jocelyn will be introduced by school pupil Abbie Johnston (16) from Maxwelltown High School in Dumfries, who was recently selected for a place on NASA’s Space Camp, Texas, programme.  The lecture, which is open to the public, is expected to be attended by high profile scientists and thinkers.

Day two of the festival, dubbed ‘Science Day’, features four excellent speakers, all of them experts on the Sun and how it affects the Earth.

Professor Ineke De Moortel of the University of St Andrews will present ‘Our Dynamic Sun: A 21st Century View’, exploring the impact of solar flares on our everyday lives. It will take attendees on a journey from deep inside the Sun’s nuclear core, through the solar surface, into its atmosphere on towards Earth and finally into space. She will also discuss satellites that observe the Sun giving scientists an ever-greater understanding of our local star, and will show amazing satellite imagery.

Professor Lyndsay Fletcher of the University of Glasgow will give a lecture on ‘Solar Flares and Superflares’, discussing the solar flare of November 2003 – the most powerful in modern times. She will outline how we observe and understand flares, their causes and effects, and the likelihood of the Sun producing a ‘superflare’ such as are observed on other solar-like stars.

Professor Yvonne Elsworth of the University of Birmingham’s ‘Taking the Pulse of the Sun’ discusses disturbance in the outer regions of the Sun, which creates soundwaves which move through the whole Sun, some of which set up standing waves.  She will discuss the work being undertaken to observe the existence of these resonant standing waves (called solar oscillation) by very small movements in the surface of the sun, and will explain how this data is used.

Professor Jim Wild of University of Lancaster will give a talk entitled ‘Living With A Star’ which explores our planet’s intimate relationship with the sun. Earth is constantly buffeted by the solar wind and the remnants of the Sun’s massive magnetic field – Prof. Wild will explain how this ‘space weather’, which is generally imperceptible to the people of Earth, can have an impact on our atmosphere, magnetic field and even human technologies. He will also discuss the captivating aurora borealis.

Talks can be booked on an individual basis or all day tickets are available at It features details on the full line up of festival activities, including Sunday’s Festival Summer Solstice Celebration at the Crawick Multiverse artland which is inspired by space, astronomy and cosmology.

You can also keep track of the latest news from the Crawick Multiverse via the Facebook page at or check out @CMVerse on Twitter or on YouTube.