Professor Stanley Cowley

Emeritus Professor of Solar-Planetary Physics

School/Department: Physics & Astronomy, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)779 464 9548



Trained at Imperial College London (BSc (Special) 1st Hons ARCS PhD DIC) in the 1960s and 70s eventually rising in 1980s and 90s to become Professor of Space Plasma Physics and Head of the Space & Atmospheric Physics Group in the Blackett Laboratory. Moved to become Head of Radio & Space Plasma Physics Group at Leicester in 1995 and now partially retired to undertake personal research. Much involvement over the years in national research-related funding committees (SRC SERC PPARC STFC) as well as international bodies fostering collaborative links (e.g. IAGA EISCAT NASA ESA). Research has attracted the award of the Chapman and Gold Medals of the Royal Astronomical Society the Bartels Medal of the European Geophysical Union Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union Fellowship of the Institute of Physics and Fellowship of the Royal Society of London.


I undertake theoretical work and related data analysis concerning the outer plasma environments of the planets initially the Earth and latterly the gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. The main focus is on the large-scale holistic behaviour of these systems resulting from their interaction with the solar environment on the outside i.e. the solar wind outflow from the Sun and the planetary atmospheric properties on the inside (e.g. composition ionization rotation rate). The data analysis aspect relates principally to data derived from international spacecraft missions such as the Cassini mission at Saturn & Juno at Jupiter.


Cowley, S.W.H., A qualitative study of the reconnection between the Earth's magnetic field and an interplanetary field of arbitrary orientation, Radio Sci., 8, 903-913, 1973.

Cowley, S.W.H., Magnetospheric asymmetries associated with the Y-component of the IMF, Planet. Space Sci., 29, 79-96, 1981.

Cowley, S.W.H., The causes of convection in the Earth's magnetosphere - a review of developments during the IMS, Rev. Geophys. Space Phys., 20, 531-565, 1982.

Hynds, R.J., S.W.H. Cowley, T.R. Sanderson, K-P. Wenzel, and J.J. Van Rooijen, Observations of energetic ions from comet Giacobini-Zinner, Science, 232, 361-365, 1986.

Cowley, S.W.H., and M. Lockwood, Excitation and decay of solar wind-driven flows in the magnetosphere-ionosphere system, Ann. Geophysicae, 10, 103-115, 1992.

Cowley, S.W.H., and E.J. Bunce, Origin of the main auroral oval in Jupiter's coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system, Planet. Space Sci., 49, 1067-1088, 2001.

Cowley, S.W.H., S.V. Badman, E.J. Bunce, J.T. Clarke, J. C. Gérard, D. Grodent, C.M. Jackman, S.E. Milan, and T.K. Yeoman, Reconnection in a rotation-dominated magnetosphere and its relation to Saturn's auroral dynamics, J. Geophys. Res., 110, A02201, doi:10.1029/2004JA010796, 2005.

Andrews, D.J., S.W.H. Cowley, M.K. Dougherty, and G. Provan, Magnetic field oscillations near the planetary period in Saturn's equatorial magnetosphere: Variation of amplitude and phase with radial distance and local time, J. Geophys. Res., 115, A04212, doi: 10.1029/2009JA0014729, 2010.

Hunt, G.J., S.W.H. Cowley, G. Provan, E.J. Bunce, I.I. Alexeev, E.S. Belenkaya, V.V. Kalegaev, M.K. Dougherty, and A.J. Coates, Field-aligned currents in Saturn's southern nightside magnetosphere: Sub corotation and planetary period oscillation components, J. Geophys. Res.: Space Physics, 119, 9847-9899, doi: 10.1002/2014JA020506, 2014.

Cowley, S.W.H., and G. Provan, Planetary period modulations of Saturn's magnetotail current sheet during northern spring: Observations and modeling, J. Geophys. Res.: Space Physics, 122, 6049-6077, doi: 10.1002/2017JA023993, 2017.


Theory & data analysis related to the outer plasma environments of the planets.


Now retired from undergraduate teaching.

Press and media

Any aspect of solar-planetary physics
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