Happy Half-Birthday Solar Stormwatch….part 3
What’s the last thing you would expect when joining a forum? Making some good on-line friends maybe? Or actually meeting up with the people you post with (and finding that they really are OK!)? Or discovering hidden artistic talents? Or (and I think this might win) enjoying the culinary efforts of a lead team member who just happens to have a STEREO spaceship shaped biscuit cutter courtesy of NASA?
Told you that one would win!
As well as a place to discuss the science and ask questions the Solar Stormwatch forum has developed into a place to chat with friends and share a virtual cup of tea or coffee and a slice of virtual cake.
The sense of community is important for some participants. It adds another dimension to taking part in the project. It might not be the busiest forum out there but it is somewhere people can drop in whenever they want advice, information, contact with other stormwatchers or team members or just to chat. Some people prefer to lurk – we always have guests – and that’s fine. In fact the majority of people who take part in Solar Stormwatch don’t use the forum at all, which is not unusual. You tend to find this with many projects. However, forums are not only where interesting discussions take place but where interesting finds pop up. Galaxy Zoo found the Voorwerp. Moon Zoo is looking for Moon bridges and Solar Stormwatch found circular storms. So anyone reading this who hasn’t discovered the forum yet – please consider coming along and joining in. It’s the place where the science team raise issues and ask for our help with extra projects. And the place where that unusual discovery is waiting to be made. Don’t miss out!
One forum thread in particular has something of a cult following. The Sun Art thread has attracted several arty types and the results are spectacular. Here’s just a taste courtesy of algwat, Christelle, Deanimation, Quialiss, Galactic Momma, me and resident artist Caro.
All pictures are based on single frames from Solar Stormwatch videos or related images of the Sun.
Posting on a forum is one thing but what about actually meeting up with people? Other forums do it but many people involved in the Zooniverse projects are new to forums and are naturally wary. It’s quite a big step coming out from behind your avatar and shaking hands but after 3 years of meeting people from forums I can highly recommend it. A small group of us had a Solar Stormwatch meeting back in March 2010 when we hijacked a Solar event at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
One of the highlights of the meeting was sitting in the Endeavour Room at the top of one of the Observatory buildings at the biggest round table you have ever seen surrounded by old solar and astronomical equipment. Another highlight was these:
Biscuits in the shape of STEREO spacecraft! Never did establish whether it was STEREO A or B! Team member Chris Davis brought them and took an empty container back home. And the biscuit cutter really was from NASA.
We also got caught up in Word Cup fever and had our own World Cup Competition to find the solar storm that looked most like the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
|The real thing
||The winner! (Herve Stevenin.)
So in 6 short months we have helped collect hundreds of solar storms, found comets, planets, lots of dust, a World Cup trophy look-alike and established a truly international community.
Here’s to the next 6 months!
Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Solar Stormwatch Forum.
Right now, it’s Solar Season at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich – so if Solar Stormwatch has fired up your interest in all things Sun-related why not come along? You could make a day of it, with a planetarium show, workshops, talks, our interactive galleries, and of course, that great view!
If you’re new to Solar Stormwatch – or have friends and family you’d like to introduce it to – why not pop in to one of the Become a Solar Scientist sessions on Saturday 17th April. They’re suitable for ages 11+, are free and happening throughout the day at 14.00, 14.40, 15.20, and 16.00.
You could also check out our free exhibition, Solar Story – Understanding the Sun, or sit back and watch Secrets of the Sun in the Peter Harrison Planetarium. It’s showing at 14.30 on term-time weekdays and at 14.00, 14.45, and 15.30 on weekends and holidays. You can book tickets online at nmm.ac.uk/tickets.
Finally, more experienced storm-spotters might enjoy Becky Higgitt’s talk about the history of solar science at Greenwich. It’s happening at 19.00 on Thursday 6th May. Tickets cost £8 and can be booked by emailing email@example.com or by calling 020 8312 6608. The Bookings office is open from 10.00-16.00.