This marvellous, magical world, is both marvellous and magical because of its position in the solar system, because it has THE SUN beaming light and warmth upon it. Great invention the sun.
The sun is 4.5 billion years old
It is 93 million miles from earth (thank goodness, wouldn’t want it any closer frankly!)
The temperature at the surface is 9.932 degrees F (see why?)
The temperature at the core, 22.5 million degrees F (how do they measure those temperatures?)
The sun is a very active star, fuelled by nuclear fusion reaction, it produces amongst other events sunspots (huge beasts they are) and solar flares. The energy produced in a few minutes of a solar flare is the equivalent of 100 hurricanes – scary! They have an impact on our space weather which in turn can affect all those shiny toys we have floating in orbit. They also give us one of the natural wonders of the world – the Northern and Southern lights – the Aurora. What did our ancestors think as they watched this beauty dancing across the skies?
The solar radiation filtered, luckily, through our atmosphere gives us not only light but warmth as well. Without either, our life on earth would be nothing. Maybe a few uni-celled creatures but no plants and therefore none of the rest. The sun is our life bringer. It brings us energy and is the driving force behind our weather systems (more of this on W is for. . . . day)
Long, long ago those remarkable forebears of ours recognised the suns wonders. They realised the life force – how I wonder? Is it just a matter of watching? Mythology all around those ancient civilizations told of the importance of the sun. From the Sumerians to the Celts with Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Inuit, Aztecs, African, Chinese and Norse just to name a handful. They knew, about the power, the deities and creation myths were well established all those thousands of years ago, so I suspect the awe was present millions of years ago. My money is on the flint wielding party goers of the misty way back when….
Apart from chasing away the night, warming our chilly bones, ripening the corn and making us all generally happier folk, the sun also makes our bones strong and healthy. Covering up or staying indoors will lead to soft bendable bones. However, because life is like that, too much exposure will leave you burnt and in line for premature aging and/or skin cancer. You can’t win sometimes.
We get blue skies because of sunlight. The solar radiation is absorbed and thereby weakened as it travels through the atmosphere – scattered by monucles of dust and air. Short wavelengths, which produce the blue, scatter very easily. When the sun is high and vertical or almost so, these shorter wavelengths are not so scattered and the blue colour can dominate. As the sun dips down away from the vertical the wavelengths have to travel further so the blue gets scattered and the red, longer waves, make it through as red, orange, pink, you name it, all the colours of the artist's palette, all the words of the poets vocabulary. Voila, we have sunsets and sunrises and more beauty.
Artists and writers have been extolling the beauty, the magnificence of the sun since they could. One doesn’t have to be a cave dweller to forget/not know the science and just smile at the sun.
I could not finish without mentioning the other more easily viewed natural phenomena – the rainbow. As a child, which of us hasn’t happy danced our feet in excitement at the viewing (a lot of us oldies also:) To 'see' a rainbow the sun must be behind us and the raindrops before us. The effect of the raindrops prisms bend and bounce the light back towards us spreading out the spectrum of colours to delight. I viewed one today driving back from a quiz session. My friend and I ah’ed and grew excited – we sat side by side but we saw different rainbows – just the slightest difference in the angle of view will change the seen effect.
Each rainbow I view belongs to me, is my own specific spectacular…. And yours….and yours.