Exploring the Aurora Borealis With Dr. Ryan French - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Exploring the Aurora Borealis With Dr. Ryan French

Tue, Aug 20, 2024
3 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this 3-part lecture series, we’ll explore the significance of the solar maximum peak we’re currently experiencing and how best to spot the Aurora Borealis.

Course Description

In May, 2024, we approached a solar maximum, a peak in one of the sun’s critical timecycles. Around the world, people looked up to find fluorescent beams of color stretching across the sky—northern lights, an ethereal marker of the strongest solar storm witnessed in over twenty years. While to us, the Sun appears steady and unchanging, in reality, it’s constantly churning, churning over cycles ranging from seconds-long to beyond centuries. And, in this course with physicist Dr. Ryan French, we’ll learn all about these dynamic solar cycles, including the eleven-year cycle currently peaking now. Over the course of three sessions, we’ll explore the history of solar storms, the science behind them, and what they mean for us here on Earth. By the end of our time together, not only will you have a deeper understanding of the dynamism of our Sun, but also the knowledge to set you off on the right path for finding and experiencing the northern lights during this solar maximum.

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes four total sessions, each lasting 1.25 hours on four consecutive Tuesdays beginning August 20.

Session 1 (Tuesday, 8/20, 8–9:15 PM ET)| The Sun & Solar Maximum: A comprehensive breakdown of everything sun.

Session 2 (Tuesday, 8/27, 8–9:15 PM ET)| Solar Storms & You: What do solar storms mean for humanity? What is fact and fiction about solar storms?

Session 3 (Tuesday, 9/3, 8–9:15 PM ET)| How to See the Aurora: Learn how to best experience the northern lights during solar maximum.

Between Sessions

While there is no homework for this course, your instructor will provide additional resources to download movies of the Sun from NASA space data to peruse in-between sessions.

Course Materials

There are no required materials for this course. A (free) optional software may be downloaded to enhance the experience. 

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Atlas Obscura Courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses. For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

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Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Dr. Ryan French
Dr. Ryan French

Dr. Ryan French is a solar physicist, science communicator and author. He is pursuing the mysteries of the Sun at the forefront of modern solar physics research, using cutting edge telescopes on the ground and in space. Ryan also works to share the wonders of the Sun and space with the public, through museums and observatories, television, and social media on Twitter and TikTok. Ryan’s first book, ‘The Sun: Beginner’s guide to our local star’ published in 2023.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at experiences@atlasobscura.com if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability
  • Tue, Aug 20, 2024
    8:00 p.m.–9:15 p.m.
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