Solar Power: The Science, Myth & Art of the Sun - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Solar Power: The Science, Myth & Art of the Sun

3 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun.

In this 3-part lecture series, we’ll explore the science, mythology, and art that probes, honors, and defines the Sun.

Course Description

Join us for an explorative, interdisciplinary, and non-blinding look at the sun! In this panel-style crash course, we’ll delve into solar science, bask in the many myths circling the sun, and learn how to collaborate with it to create cyanotypes. Hosted by Kelly Reidy of Atlas Obscura’s Accidental Discoveries, our lineup of sun experts from across disciplines includes solar physicist Dr. Ryan French, astrophysicist and folklorist Dr. Moiya McTier, and photographer JR Pepper. By the end of our time together, you’ll not only have a deeper understanding of how this star has shaped our planet, but also how it’s shaped our lives as well as the many ways we’ve found and made meaning from it.

This course is a perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the Sun's importance before the upcoming Great American Eclipse taking place on April 8, 2024! This rare total solar eclipse will pass over Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., with countless locations able to witness this astronomical phenomena in totality–including in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at Atlas Obscura’s own Ecliptic Festival. No matter where you see this historic total solar eclipse, it’ll be the perfect time to bring your new Sun mastery to the party! 

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes three total sessions, each lasting 1 hour on three consecutive days beginning February 6.

Session 1 (Tuesday, 2/6, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Sun Science: Living Under a Star With Dr. Ryan French

Session 2 (Wednesday, 2/7, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Myths & Legends of the Sun With Dr. Moiya McTier

Session 3 (Thursday, 2/8, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Making Art With the Sun: Cyanotypes With JR Pepper

Your Instructors

Dr Ryan French

Dr. Ryan French is a solar astrophysicist at the National Science Foundation's National Solar Observatory, as well as a 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 social media, public talks, and on television and radio. His first book, ‘The Sun: beginner's guide to our local star’, was released in 2023.

Moiya McTier

Dr. Moiya McTier is an astrophysicist, folklorist, and science communicator. Moiya was the first person to double major in astrophysics and folklore at Harvard and the first Black woman to earn an astronomy PhD from Columbia University. In her astronomy research, Moiya specialized in the habitability of planets and the motion of stars around the galaxy.

Moiya’s first experience with facts-based worldbuilding was her undergraduate senior thesis, a science fiction novel set on an exoplanet she studied. She wanted the world to be as motivated by her research as possible, and soon found that it didn’t make sense to stop at accurate planetary science, so she talked to biologists and psychologists to make her fictional world seem more realistic. Since then, Moiya has given hundreds of talks about science and worldbuilding, designed interactive exhibits for the New York Hall of Science, and consulted with companies like PBS and Disney on their fictional worlds. After leading worldbuilding workshops around the world, Moiya started a podcast called Exolore, where she builds fictional worlds with expert guests, interviews professional worldbuilders, and reviews the merits of worlds that have already been built. Moiya also co-hosts Fate & Fabled, a youtube show about mythology for PBS and her own podcast about astronomy called Pale Blue Pod. Her first published book, THE MILKY WAY: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy, artfully wove science, folklore, and fiction and was named one of Publishers Weekly's best books of 2022.

JR Pepper

JR Pepper is a lecturer, photographer and self described 'professional eccentric'. She holds both a BA and an MA in art history specializing in Surrealism and spirit photography. Her artwork has been seen in various gallery shows and publications including Haunted America: FAQ by Dave Thompson, and Musee Magazine. She has spoken at New York Anime Festival, New York Comic Con, Tokyo in Tulsa, The Morbid Anatomy Museum, The Odd Salon, The Dead Ladies Show and is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College. She currently works as digital imaging specialist at The Burns Archive and is a tour guide at Green-wood Cemetery. Her book Buried Boston: America's Revolutionary Necropolis, documenting Boston's burying grounds and cemeteries is due out in 2024.

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 For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Founded in 2009, Atlas Obscura created the definitive community-driven guide to incredible places across the planet and is now an award-winning company that shares the world’s hidden wonders in person and online.

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.

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 if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Access to this online course is free for Atlas Obscura Members. Unlock more wonder by becoming a member today!

Dates and Availability

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