At the centre of our solar system, the sun has long been a popular object of curiosity and study throughout human history. Stonehenge may even have been built primarily to observe it; the Mayans designed their mathematically sophisticated calendars around it; and Galilieo nearly came to blows with other keen minds in describing its unique features. In the 21st century, we know more about the sun than ever before and have an accurate notion about its physical properties. We can explain how solar eclipses occur and we also know that the sun's surface - giving rise to solar winds, flares and sun-spots - can have a dramatic effect on the Earth, from power line surges to the beautiful aurora borealis to influencing cycles of warming and and cooling.
Dr. Jay Pasachoff received his Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University in 1969. Since 1972 he has been the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams University and the Director of Hopkins Observatory. He is also researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and currently is a visiting scientist at Harvard University's Department of Astronomy.