Space Weather Competition

Can you paint the Northern Lights? Or write a short story about what happens in a solar storm? Space weather events like these can affect our everyday lives, from interrupting our TV signals to creating beautiful views in the sky. We’d like to help more people learn about space weather and why it’s important, so we’re inviting teams of young people to get creative and make some space weather artwork and stories!

The competition is open to all young people across the UK in two age categories: 7-10 and 11-15 year olds. There are resources freely available to find out more about space weather topics and the wide variety of related careers.

Why take part
  • It’s a chance to combine scientific and artistic skills along with teamwork, whilst learning about these natural phenomena and our place in the solar system.
  • The top entries will win a bundle of prizes and the chance for their whole group/family/class to interact with space scientists and a rare chance to see inside one of only 3 space weather forecasting facilities in the world.
How to take part
  1. Make a team. For example teams can be groups of friends, your Girlguiding or Scouting unit, family members or school classmates and there is no limit on the number of people. It could be a good idea to have a mix of people who enjoy science and art. If you don’t have a team, we will also accept entries from individuals.
  2. Choose your space weather topic(s). Have a look at some resources on the types of space weather and the effects it can have on Earth.
  3. Get creative: choose to make something or write something. There will be one winning team for each category and for each age group (4 prizes in total) and runners up.
    - Make: a poster, drawing, painting, sculpture, cartoon strip or other artwork or craftwork. Be as imaginative as possible and use any materials you can find at home! If each member of the team makes something individually, a collage of all the art can be submitted.
    - Write a poem, short story, newspaper article, or script for a space weather forecast on TV, maximum 500 words.
  4. Submit your entry online here. An adult should complete the online submission form and upload your entry or a photograph of the artwork, before the deadline 5pm Tuesday 27th October 2020.
  • Entries must show at least one real type of space weather but any stories can either be fictional or based on true events.
  • Entries will be judged on both the creativity and how well it shows the science.
  • The competition has 2 age categories which will be judged separately: 7-10 years old and 11-15 years old (age at the time of closing of the competition). This is just a guideline and we expect there will be some teams of mixed ages, so in the submission form please select the age category that best represents your team. 
  • Terms and conditions
What is space weather?

Weather describes the day to day changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, such as how hot or cold the air around us is. Space weather describes what happens much higher up and further away: in the upper atmosphere and out in space towards the Sun.

Sometimes the storms on the Sun can have an effect on the Earth’s protective upper atmosphere and magnetic field. The Sun can release material into space, which can lead to power cuts on Earth or disrupt our satellites and telecommunications.

The biggest space weather event ever recorded is the Carrington Event of 1859, when a very fast stream of material travelled to Earth and weakened the magnetic field that normally protects us. Telegraph systems across Europe and North America stopped working and it created the brightest-ever auroras worldwide.

If a storm that big happened today, lots of items we use every day wouldn’t work including anything that relies on the internet or GPS – mobile phone apps, card payments, television – as well as power grids that supply our homes and schools. The radiation from a storm could also be a problem for astronauts and airline crews. We think it’s important that people are aware of space weather and what the experts are doing to help keep us safe.

This November, people from across the world will get together at the online European Space Weather Symposium to talk about space weather. Scientists, engineers, satellite operators, power grid operators, people working in aviation and maritime, and space weather forecasters will discuss solutions to problems caused by space weather and ways to work together to reduce the impact of such events on our daily lives.