There are many ways to participate in Sun-Earth Days. This year, Sun-Earth Days will be celebrated on March 22, 2013 for the Annual Equinox Celebration. However, you can also celebrate our connection to the Sun any time of the year, either as a special event or as part of your regular programs.
Amateur astronomy clubs throughout the US and around the globe frequently host "star parties" to share both daytime and nighttime astronomy with the public. Inviting a local astronomer from your area is one way to enhance your education programs and to offer your audience a chance to view the sun through a solar telescope. Don't forget to visit the Amateur Astronomers section of our site for more info.
The Solar System Ambassadors program, sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is a public outreach program designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. These volunteers, many of them amateur astronomers and educators, communicate the excitement of space exploration to people in their local communities and are a good resource for your Sun-Earth Connection events. Visit Solar System Ambassadors for information and examples of past events in your area.
Scientists studying the Sun and its impact on Earth can bring the excitement of their latest research to your education programs. Past museum programs have hosted talks and question-answer sessions with scientists as part of their Sun-Earth Days celebrations. If you would like to invite a scientist to participate in your events, please contact Carolyn Ng.
With access to a computer or a simple kiosk/computer station, you can create an instant exhibit that allows users to explore Sun-Earth Connection in depth. Total Eclipse: Solar Eclipses and the Mysteries of the Corona, Space Weather Media Viewer, and Traditions of the Sun are all available for free online and on CD-ROMs by request.
Not only is the Sun an important focus of scientific research, it has also been an important cultural and spiritual symbol to people around the world both in the past and today. In fact, celestial events such as total eclipses have inspired people to observe and understand the Sun-Earth-Moon system. As with Sun-Earth Days 2005, Ancient Observatories - Timeless Knowledge, and Eclipse 2008 we encourage education programs where the public can explore the science of the Sun within its cultural context. Visit the Exploratorium website for examples of past programs.
Solstices are special days of the year with the most and least hours of daylight; equinoxes are days with equal hours of daylight and night. These are wonderful opportunities for people to become aware of the motion Earth relative to the Sun and understand how it affects the seasons. These days are also celebrated in many cultures and often used to guide planting and harvest.
The most powerful solar flare in the last 500 years occurred on September 2, 1859 and was sighted by two astronomers who happened to be looking at the sun at exactly the right time!