Jim Wild is a Professor in the Physics Department at Lancaster University, researching the physics behind the aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights), the impact of space weather on human technology and the interaction between the Martian atmosphere and the interplanetary environment.
  • The answer is blowin’ in the wind…

    When it comes to natural phenomena that are right before your eyes, the Sun is pretty hard to miss. Variously revered, feared and studied, humankind has sought to understand the Sun for millennia. But even though astronomy can be said to be one of the oldest scientific disciplines, it has been advances in astrophysics over the last 150 years that have revealed the true nature of our nearest star.

  • MAVEN - NASA copyright

    Why is Mars so unlike Earth?

    Generations of science fiction fans have grown up thinking of Mars as the home of weird, and rarely friendly, extra-terrestrial creatures. The exotic red planet has almost nothing in common with our own home and is the very definition of an alien world. Or is it? Red Planet Day seems like a good opportunity to reconsider our Martian neighbour.

  • Northern Lights © Dr Steve Marple

    Where and when? The science behind predicting the northern lights

    Where should I go to see the northern lights? It’s a question I get asked a lot, usually just after I say that I study the physics of the aurora borealis. More often than not, it is followed by "When’s the best time to see them?"

  • Rosetta mission selfie at a distance of about 16 km from the surface of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

    Here come the comets

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that comets are a bit like buses - you wait ages for one to arrive and then two come along at once - but 2014 is turning out to be a great year for comet hunters.

  • What caused those spectacular northern lights – and how you can catch them next time

    Catching a glimpse of the northern lights is apparently the top experience for Britons compiling a "bucket list" of must-do experiences before they die. It's not surprising, the aurora borealis is a breathtakingly beautiful natural phenomenon, but one that is seldom seen from the British Isles.

  • Image: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

    With so much vested in satellites, solar storms could bring life to a standstill

    Satellites are essential to modern life. So essential, in fact, that plans have been drawn up on how to cope with a situation in which we could no longer rely on them. A UK government document entitled the Space Weather Preparedness Strategy may sound strange, but when so much of modern communications, transport and the financial system relies on satellites, you can imagine why one would want a Plan B in place.