The Sun is by far the most prominent, and most intense feature of our entire solar system. As the largest object in our solar system, the sun alone accounts for an astounding 99.8% of its total mass. To truly appreciate the massiveness of the sun, consider this: approximately 1.3 million Earth-sized objects would be required to fill the interior of the sun.
Let’s take a brief journey through some of the more interesting aspects of our the sun.
Interesting Attributes of the Sun
(sources: newsday, stardate, cosmicopia, leonardo-energy)
The outer layer of the Sun has a temperature of 11,000 °F while the core of the sun is almost 2,500 times hotter at an approximate 27,000,000 °F. It is here at the core that the temperature and pressure are so tremendous that nuclear reactions take place. The sun outputs 386 billion megawatts of energy per second as a result, however interestingly enough, as this energy travels outwards from the sun’s core, it is reabsorbed and re-released again and again (at lower temperatures each time) so that by the time it reaches the surface, most of it is just visible light.
The Sun’s Importance to Earth
Energy from the sun’s core, in the form of sunlight, which takes a million years to travel from the core to the surface and then to the Earth, is responsible for supporting almost all life on earth via photosynthesis and regulating the Earth’s temperature and weather. The Sun’s size, proximity to Earth, and the strong gravitational pull is responsible for keeping Earth and other planets in orbit. While our relationship with the sun is powerful and useful, it can also be incredibly dangerous. On the one hand the Sun provides us with light, heat, energy, and it’s gravitational pull is responsible for our orbit and therefore day and night, on the other hand human skin is sensitive to extreme temperatures and ultraviolet light, which is the cause of hundreds of deaths during heat-waves as well as harmful skin conditions (not to mention it can interfere with electronic communication).
The Sun’s Relationship to the Moon
In spite of a huge disparity, when viewed from Earth, the Moon and Sun appear to be similar in size. Furthermore, because the moon orbits the Earth in almost the same plane as the Earth orbits the Sun, the three objects are often aligned, leading to lunar and solar eclipses. When the Moon comes between the Earth and Sun, it’s called a Solar eclipse (because the sun is obscured by the Moon for observers on Earth), and when the Earth comes between the Sun and Moon, it is called a Lunar eclipse (because the Moon is passing through the Earth’s shadow which is caused by the Sun being behind the Earth). Finally, since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, molecules from the Sun impact the Moon’s surface directly.
The Sun Around the World
Just like the Moon, the Sun is is a spectacular subject for photographers around the world. Unlike the Moon, however, the Sun is incredibly difficult to photograph and requires extensive study, practice, and often special equipment if you want to do a good job of capturing the spectacle on film. That said, here are a few people who’ve managed to get a hold of the sun.