Date: Friday 13th October | Time: 11.00am – 12.00pm

Dr Helen Mason OBE

Dr Helen Mason is solar scientist at the University of Cambridge. Her field of research is solar physics, in particular the ultraviolet and X-ray spectrum of the Sun. She has worked on many joint UK, NASA, ESA and Japanese space projects including Skylab, the Solar Maximum Mission, Yohkoh, SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), Hinode, SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) and IRIS. Recent solar space observations have completely changed our view of the Sun.

Helen has always been keen to convey her passion for solar physics to the public and to young students. She has given many public lectures and worked closely with UK schools. She has participated in many radio and TV programmes, for example BBC4’s ‘Seven Ages of Starlight’.

She has produced an educational web site for teachers and students (11-16 year old) called Sun|trek (www.suntrek.org) which is used extensively worldwide. Her work was recognised in 2010 when she was nominated as one of the six ‘Women of Outstanding Achievement’. In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.


Lecture synopsis

Our Dynamic Sun


The Sun, our star has just passed the peak of its activity cycle. Several solar space observatories have been watching the Sun over the past couple of decades: SoHO, Stereo, Hinode and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. This talk will review what we have learnt about our dynamic Sun, in particular what we know (and don’t yet know!) about sunspots, solar active regions and flares (huge explosions), and how the Sun affects the Earth’s environment (space weather).