Certainly since the arrival of photosynthesising cells at least 2.4 billion years ago, the energy provided by sunlight has been foundational to life on Earth. It underpins our existence and has been worshipped by cultures around the world since the earliest chapters in human history. Yet today, the damage we have done to the atmosphere through mistreatment of the planet and its natural resources has led to a situation where the primary life source is also posing a threat to many species, including our own.
The Sun has been worshipped by cultures around the world since the earliest chapters in human history.
The Sun, the Science and Industry Museum’s blockbuster summer exhibition, orbits around our solar system’s central star, exploring it from various cultural and scientific angles. Ancient artefacts, including a Bronze Age Norse golden cup, a Byzantine sundial calendar and Nicolaus Copernicus’ treatise On The Revolutions Of The Heavenly Orbs, will sit alongside objects and scaled models of ground-breaking technology from the last 50 years, from the Zero Energy Thermonuclear Assembly, heralded in 1958 at the Atoms for Peace Exhibition as ‘A Sun of Our Own’, through to NASA’s Solar Orbiter, providing an insight into the international space agency’s ambitious project to fly closer to the Sun than ever before.
The Sun will also focus on the scientific and engineering community’s latest efforts to find methods of harvesting the Sun’s energy in less harmful ways and to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels; one example being the invention of photovoltaic HeliaFilm in Germany just last year. Meanwhile, a range of interactive activities will offer the opportunity to ‘try on’ sunglasses from different eras and cultures, bask on an indoor beach, pose in a giant sunbeam and experience a solar storm.
The Sun sets out to bring us as close to the star as many of us are likely to ever come.
Despite the story of over-reaching Icarus and his melting wings, humanity has never lost its fascination with the fiery celestial body that illuminates our lives. The Sun at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum sets out to bring us as close to the star as many of us are likely to ever come without getting burnt. You don’t even need sunscreen.