Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hotter Than Your Hottest Date

Ok, maybe it’s not the kind of hot date you’re thinking of, but this hot date will be pretty hot. It is a date with your one and only sun! It’s always there, but have you taken the time to explore it? Do you even remember it’s there? Do you even give it the time of day? Many cultures have religions that worship the sun. However, many of us live day-to-day taking our sun for granted.

Maybe we don’t think about because it is 93 miles away from us on earth. Maybe we don’t think about it because our planet earth seems so amazing that we think it’s probably the most amazing thing in existence. We may think earth is cool, but the sun might just be cooler.

First off, compared to earth, the sun is massive! The sun is more than 300,000 times heavier than the earth. It would take more than 100 earths to span the entire width of the sun. And, more than one million earths would fit in the middle of the sun! Although it is huge, there are other stars out there that are hundreds of times bigger than the sun.

Ever thought about what it’d feel like to be on another planet? Well, if you were able to be on the sun, you would feel massive. The gravity on the sun is 28 times more than on the earth. Someone that weighs 150 pounds on earth would weigh 4,200 pounds on the sun.

We think of it as our source of natural light and heat but do we even know anything about how it works? Did you know light from the sun takes about 8 minutes to arrive at earth? If the sun ever stopped shining, it would take us 8 minutes to realize. Pretty scary, huh? It radiates heat and shoots off a steady stream of charged particles, called solar wind, at a rate of 280 miles per second through the solar system. Solar flares, another type of wave of charged particles, also come out of the sun. Why are they important? Well, they can disrupt all satellite communications and knockout all electricity on earth.

And, by the way, this is what the sun looks like up close and personal...

Just last week we celebrated Earth Day. When do we celebrate Sun Day? Every week? (Get it, Sunday?) Just kidding. In fact, we do not have a popular national holiday to celebrate the sun. Why is that? I do not know. If the sun ever decided to stop working or decided to start over-working, we’d all be dead. Basically, all of life depends on the sun’s normal functioning. The sun is about 4.5 billion years old. And, it’s only expected to shine for another 5 billion years. Let’s start appreciating now.

On April 27 through May 2, the Cambridge Science Festival is hosting a “Solar Lunch” on the plaza in front of the Museum of Science from 12pm-1pm. It will be a great opportunity to learn about the sun and actually see parts of the sun up-close and personal. Let’s make it a date, a hot date. I am not sure if food will be provided. Regardless, come out, meet new people, learn a lot, and give some attention to your one and only sun. See you there! (Weather permitting.)

I found the facts I included on the sites below. Please visit them to learn more cool facts about the sun.

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