Multiple media formats have been employed to make the topic of space weather a pleasant learning experience for those of us with our feet planted firmly on the ground.
People think of space as a vacuum, but solar activity and cosmic rays generate what's known as space weather. Just like the weather near the Earth's surface, space weather can sometimes cause problems. Satellite-based communications and navigation can be negatively impacted while spacecraft and aircraft and their crews can be exposed to harmful levels of radiation.
Yet ask anyone on the street, and they are not likely to know much about space weather. The participants in the 'Space weather and Europe and education tool with the Sun' (Sweets) project aimed to change this. Funding provided by the EU was used to organise a number of activities to better inform the public about space weather.
all types of media were targeted, starting with the creation of a DVD with high definition video clips, images, simulations and textual descriptions of space weather phenomena. The Sweets DVD is available free of charge and serves both educational and entertainment purposes.
in order to take the message to the people on the street, a specially outfitted bus toured 10 European countries. Visitors had the opportunity to observe the sun through telescopes, watch the Sweets DVD and other video content, view space weather phenomena live from satellite feeds and peruse other educational materials in the form of posters and books. The demonstrations were overseen by some of Europe's top space weather scientists.
another unique idea to promote public interest implemented by the Sweets team was a Web-based contest on the topic of space weather. Winners were selected and the prize was a ticket to watch a rocket launch at a facility on an island off the coast of Norway.
the Sweets project culminated in a space weather forum open to the public. Experts in the field were invited to share their experiences and knowledge. The Sweets DVD was shown as well as a short film produced during the project titled 'Breath of a star'. The highlight was the first ever space weather dance show complete with lights and music called 'Sonnensturm', literally 'solar storm'. Professional dancers took the audience on a sensory voyage from the Big Bang, through the Milky Way all the way to the surface of the Earth.
europeans are learning about weather in space and how it can affect life here on planet Earth and having fun at the same time.