Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Sun-Centered Weather On Tap at Washington College

Chestertown, MD — Earthlings expect the sun to rise every morning and set every night. But all is not quiet on Earth’s star and events on its surface can affect life on Earth. In his talk "Environmental Impacts of Space Weather," Allan T. Weatherwax, visiting assistant professor of physics at Washington College, will discuss the Sun-Earth environment, including the solar wind, sunspots, the aurora borealis, and explosions on the sun called coronal mass ejections. His talk takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Litrenta Lecture Hall at Washington College.

Weatherwax, who is also research scientist at the University of Maryland Institute of Physical Science and Technology, says, for example, that the sun periodically releases copious amounts of matter through coronal mass ejections. "These immense clouds of material, when directed towards Earth, can cause large magnetic storms that produce huge amounts of power—several million megawatts—more than enough to power the United States." He also points out that in the year 2000, solar activity will increase, heightening the likelihood of damage to electrical equipment in space and on the ground.

Sponsored by the McLain Program in Environmental Studies, the lecture is free and open to the public.

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