The STEREO spacecraft. CREDIT: NASA, via Wikipedia
The STEREO spacecraft. CREDIT: NASA, via Wikipedia

I have to confess, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down with a pen and paper during a lecture and taken down notes. I don’t normally need to – I hopefully absorb the important things, and the details aren’t quite as important to remember as they can normally be found in papers. This time, however, I wanted to put summaries on here, so thus far I’ve taken around 8 pages worth… Now I just have to work out what to say here.

The most interesting talk I’ve been to so far from the point of view of learning the most was the plenary talk on STEREO yesterday morning. The sun is definitely not my field (way too local), although I’ve looked at it a few times through a solar telescope, so I was mostly relying on my knowledge from undergraduate and a few extra talks. STEREO, as the name might suggest, is actually two satellites, both going away from the earth but in opposite directions, giving us a 3D view of the sun. It also gives us a view of the Earth-Sun line – which you normally look down, rather than across. That means that we can see coronal mass ejections coming towards us, and gain up to 2 days of advanced notice – very important, considering the impact that these have on satellites and the Earth in general. The first Earth-impacting one of these was actually seen – from both sides – in the middle of December 2008! This wasn’t seen at all by Earth-based instruments. STEREO has also seen other cool things, including the stripping of a comet’s tail by a coronal mass ejection. More info on STEREO is on Wikipedia.

More coming when I get the time…

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