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BAS Welcomes Stephen Ramsden to Chattanooga

Have you ever seen the sun?  Really?  No, probably not.  We’re told not to look at the sun from a very young age.  Some of us, however, defy our elders (and better sense) and stare right into that blinding glare; astronomers are a bit special that way.  Some new astronomers learn from the initial moments of blindness and find ways to observe our nearest stellar neighbor without burning holes in their eyes.  These individuals are rare, but one by the name of Stephen Ramsden visited the BAS at the Jones observatory for the March 2013 meeting.

Mr. Ramsden explored with those in attendance the wonders of our local cosmic leviathan, and he explained his efforts to instill in others his own passion for the Sun.  Mr. Ramsden has many reasons to want to teach others, especially the under-served, not the least of which is his burning desire to see children everywhere do better in school and in life.  Through various instruments from NASA satellites and extremely sophisticated narrow-band telescopes to simple protective glasses and good communication, Mr. Ramsden directs and operates the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project (CBSAP).

The BAS was entertained with aspects of the nature of the Sun, though Mr. Ramsden stopped short of a physics lesson.  He explained the Sun as a whirling mass of many different elements (mostly hydrogen) in different states, bound to intensely powerful magnetic fields and regularly ripping parts of itself off in energetic outbursts of frightening magnitude.  Every slide told an aspect of this story, often punctuated with a picture or animation taken by Mr. Ramsden or young people at outreach events.  Mr. Ramsden sees many people every year during the public events he attends and hosts, and this is his joy and the true mission of the CBSAP.

Mr. Ramsden was very generous with his time, and also donated protective eyewear for people to view the sun through.  Barnard Astronomical Society would like to sincerely thank Mr. Stephen Ramsden for visiting Chattanooga and delivering such an excellent program!

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