Walk the Solar System, Listen
to the Music of the Spheres
Nov. 2 at Wallis
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
October 30, 2003
RYE, N.H. -- When Marty Quinn set the stage for his “Walk
Through the Solar System,” little did he know that the star
performer would be acting up in a big way just in time for the show.
Earlier this week, one of the most powerful solar flares ever recorded
erupted on the Sun and hurled its energetic particles toward Earth
at two million miles per hour. Such coronal mass ejections are a
major component of “space weather” and can disrupt satellites
and aircraft communications, pose a risk to astronauts, knock out
power stations, create shimmering aurora when they slam into the
Earth's magnetosphere (the magnetic shield that surrounds and protects
the Earth), and be turned into music.
Quinn's show will feature selections from music he composed using
data gathered in Earth's magnetosphere by satellites carrying instruments
built at the University of New Hampshire. “Solar Songs,”
for example, features streams of energetic particles from events
similar to the huge solar blast that occurred this past week.
A local musician and computer scientist, Quinn will lead the walk
on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2003, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Wallis Sands Beach
in Rye. He will use a four-foot replica of the Sun as the center
point in a scaled-down solar system. It will take participants one
mile to walk the relative distance from our star to Saturn.
“The purpose of the walk,” Quinn says, “is to
give people the opportunity to personally experience the size of
the solar system and the placements of the planets within it - they
will become like the space probes we have sent out. I hope that
it helps to convey the dynamic nature of the Sun and the intensity
of the solar winds.”
To further ground the celestial experience, Quinn will play pre-recorded
selections of music he created using data collected by satellite
instruments built by scientists at UNH's Institute for the Study
of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS). The composition “Rock Around
the Bow Shock” is a computer-generated “sonification”
using data obtained during several consecutive passes through the
magnetosphere's leading edge or “bow shock” by the four,
sister Cluster spacecraft.
“This activity really should help make the public aware of
the larger environment that we live in,” says Eberhard Möbius
of the EOS Space Science Center and the Department of Physics. Möbius
is one of several UNH scientists involved with instruments on a
host of satellites investigating aspects of the magnetosphere and
solar wind, including ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) and the
Register for the walk by calling 603-659-5239 (leave name and phone
number) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dress warmly, and bring a small notebook to jot down thoughts along
the way. Participants will meet at the Wallis Sands Beach parking
lot off Route 1A. There is no charge for the walk.
For more information on the sonifications, visit the EOS web site
and click on “Outreach,” then “Music.”