• Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash
  • Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash
  • Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • Photo by USGS on Unsplash

"The IGY and Me" Blogs

Rob Sternberg has started a blog entitled “The IGY and Me: Science, History, Culture, Philately and Memorabilia of the International Geophysical Year (1957-58).” It can be found at https://internationalgeophysicalyear.blogspot.com/

Posts are approximately weekly. You can subscribe and receive emails of the entries when they are posted. The themes are indicated in the blog’s subtitle, along with occasional thoughts about how they have intersected with Sternberg’s life and career over the years. 

IAGA was one of many scientific communities that provided official (via resolutions) and organizational support to the IGY in 1957-1958. 


Sternberg was born in1950, just a couple of months and a few miles from a historic soiree hosted by James and Abigail Van Allen in the Washington, D.C. area; with guests including Sydney Chapman and Lloyd Berkner, the idea for the IGY was conceived that evening. 

Rob’s childhood education was shaped by the fervor for science following the launch of Sputnik in 1957 as part of the IGY. He obtained his Ph.D. in geophysics at the University of Arizona. Sternberg was a geophysics professor at Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA) for over 30 years. 

For the last two decades he has been collecting books, philatelic items, and other items related to the IGY. He presented “The IGY and American Popular Culture” at the XXIV General Assembly of the IUGG, Perugia, Italy, July 2007, in a session on “The International Geophysical Year: A 50-yr Retrospective" (conveners Gregory A. Good and Ed Cliver). Sternberg can be contacted at rssternberg@gmail.com

Photos show Rob in second grade during the IGY and today.

IAGA Summer School 2021

The pandemic's plan to keep students and scientists from interacting and working together was a fail, because the first virtual IAGA Summer School 2021 was a success! 7 lecturers and 34 students were well managed and coordinated by the organisers. The interactions took place using various online platforms.

The first interaction started much before the summer school using Slack. Everybody was informed about the activities and lectures here. The platform was active till after two weeks of the end of the school, in case people wanted to interact or ask any questions regarding the topics discussed. 

A few days before the school, social interactions took place through Gather. All networking events as well as practical lessons during the school happened here. People could roam around in the different classrooms to work and discuss. The space was open 24/7 for whoever wanted to stay and chat.

All participants and lecturers came together from different time zones for the classes on Zoom. The lectures were on topics discussing the magnetism and modelling of the geomagnetic field and related phenomena. The organisers were always present in case of any technical or communication difficulties.

Finally, here are some testimonies from the participants themselves -

Shivangi Sharan, a PhD student working on the magnetic field of planets, says: The screens were our contact links as well as our barriers. The school was *almost* like a physical meet where everybody would come for the classes and eat together later. Just that some were eating their breakfast, some lunch and the rest dinner!

Sarasija Sanaka, another PhD student studying magnetotellurics, says : I felt very blessed to attend such an event. Lectures were organised very well and Gather is a very interactive platform. I didn't expect we all could interact so lively. It was my pleasure to take part in such an event. I heartfully thank the organisers for providing such an opportunity.

Hannah Rogers, a final year PhD student in geomagnetism, says : The summer school was an amazing way to meet other early career researchers from around the globe. Despite the challenges faced due to the global pandemic, it was an educational experience with many benefits from the excellent lecturers. I particularly enjoyed the chance to use jupyter notebooks to cement my understanding. Thanks so much to the organisers for all their hard work and to IAGA for facilitating this wonderful opportunity. I hope to take the knowledge gained with me into my future work in my PhD and beyond.  

All in all, the school went very smoothly, with its goal for imparting knowledge and interaction achieved.

K index digitization

K index is one of the oldest universal indices of geomagnetic activity that is still being widely used. The multidecadal practice of its application makes it an indispensable source of information for retrospective and historical analysis of solar‐terrestrial interaction for nearly eight Solar cycles. 

Example of range limits of K-index at different observatories. Credit : http://isgi.unistra.fr/what_are_kindices.php 

Most significantly, while studying the historical geomagnetic data, K index datasheets are in most cases more convenient for automated analysis than the analogue magnetograms. World Data Center for Solar‐Terrestrial Physics (Moscow, Russia) collected and digitized the results of the K index determination at 41 geomagnetic observatories of the former USSR for the period from July 1957 to early 1990s. 

This unique historical data collection is valuable for retrospective analysis and studying geomagnetic events in the past as well as for data validation or forecasting. This data collection is now available from the PANGEA data archive (https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.922233), and the relevant data paper has been published in the ESSD journal: N.Sergeyeva, A.Gvishiani, A.Soloviev, L.Zabarinskaya, T.Krylova, M.Nisilevich, and R.Krasnoperov (2021), Historical K index data collection of Soviet magnetic observatories, 1957–1992, ESSD, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd‐2020‐270.

Contributed by the Chair of the Interdivisional Commission on History, Dr. Anatoly Soloviev, from the Geophysical Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. The Commission encourages historical geophysical research and preservation of IAGA's history.