Blackpool visitors given the chance to get up close to the Sun at annual light festival

Blackpool visitors given the chance to get up close to the Sun at annual light festival Banner Image

Professor Robert Walsh and public artist Alex Rinsler with their Sun project in Blackpool.

SUN project sees UCLan academic and international artist recreate our closest star

A 3D recreation of the Sun is set to get its world premiere at Blackpool’s annual Lightpool festival. SUN has been created by public artist Alex Rinsler in collaboration with Professor Robert Walsh, professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and will feature projections of astrophysical data from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory. 

The installation, which will see a seven-metre diameter suspended sphere illuminate Blackpool’s Winter Garden Olympia space, will reveal details of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light, a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is beyond human sight.

Several months of the Sun’s life will be displayed over the course of 13 minutes, allowing visitors to experience the wonders of our neighbouring star first-hand. With the help of spherical display experts at Pufferfish, specialised image enhancement techniques have been used to highlight the intricate features of our Sun, which would otherwise be lost. Cycling through different temperatures from a cool 4,500 degrees to an impossibly hot 10 million degrees, SUN reveals our star in a completely new light. It will be accompanied by an original soundscape created by multimedia artist Ebe Oke, with renowned singer Feargal Mostyn-Williams.

The SUN installation is free to attend and is open from 6.00pm to 10.00pm between 16 October and 26 October. Astronomers from UCLan will be there to answer any questions visitors might have about the solar giant, and there will be a series of family-friendly talks for those who want to find out more. Topics will range from how the Sun affects life on Earth, to what happens when galaxies collide, and the question of life on other worlds. Free talk tickets can be reserved at the VisitBlackpool.com website.

This project has been two years in the making – it’s a huge achievement. I hope this work can spread understanding about the science that shapes our lives and bring something as overwhelming as the Sun a bit closer to home.

Over 250 local school children will also take part in interactive sessions through the SunSpaceArt programme led by Dr Helen Mason, solar scientist at the University of Cambridge, and artist Helen Schell.

Professor Robert Walsh, Professor of Astrophysics at UCLan and SUN project lead, said: “Lightpool Festival will be the first chance for visitors to get up close and personal with our solar neighbour. The Sun is a vital part of our existence on Earth and it’s an enormous privilege to give people the unforgettable opportunity to experience our star first-hand.”

Alex Rinsler, artist and co-creator of SUN, commented: “This project has been two years in the making – it’s a huge achievement. I hope this work can spread understanding about the science that shapes our lives and bring something as overwhelming as the Sun a bit closer to home.”

After Lightpool, SUN will be displayed on 1 and 2 November as part of the Light Up Lancaster Festival.

SUN is a co-commission from the Lightpool Festival and Light Up Lancaster. It has been enabled through a Spark Award for Public Engagement from the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation, as well as public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Technical production is by Pufferfish Ltd with AV support from Warpro.

View all the photos and video of the SUN project.

The Sun Project

The Sun Project in Blackpool.

Rachel Atkinson | 15 October 2019