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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Daily LIFT #210

Soviet stamp in honour of the International Year of the Calm Sun, 1964-65 -- Daily LIFT #210

In 1964-65 Soviet astronomers and scientists organized what became a global effort to study the sun during one of its "calm" periods of less solar activity. Scientists in over 70 countries participated.

While there are odd reductionist types who will often question the use of resources for such projects, as with most scientific endeveavours this one not only increased understanding but had very serious real world implications.

As two Soviet scientists wrote of it:

"It is the continuous and varied influence of the sun on the earth that explains our interest, rather than the fact that observation of the sun advances stellar astronomy.

Everyone is familiar with the interferences that frequently occur in radio transmissions. The local broadcast¬ ing station that regularly comes over so clearly all at once begins to fade out and another station, possibly unidentified and far away, comes in. This is all very well if one has been tuned in to a programme of music, but quite another thing in the case of a radio beacon, for in that event ships and aircraft may face distress as a result of confusion in the ether. Or, to take another example, the needle of the compass on which you are accustomed to rely may unexpectedly begin to swing away from a given point, and here again the results may be serious.

In both cases solar phenomena are at the root of the trouble. Solar activity, therefore, and solarterrestrial effects require painstaking observation. We need to know more about the various solar phenomena and to learn how to deal with or, rather, adapt ourselves to the effect of the turbulent activity of the sun that has so direct a bearing on our existence."

You can read more about this year of the "calm" or "quiet" sun at this UNESCO link:


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