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There are plenty of hot sunny days ahead as we head into summer. During spring of this year, we had a few days that gave us a taste of the hot days to come. With the summer approaching, here are a few Sun facts to think about next time you are in the sun getting a suntan and avoiding the dreaded over sun exposure, sunburn. Here’s to the power of the Sun.
Through the years, we have labeled the Sun with a few different titles depending on the culture. Old English, the Sun was the same just spelled funny, Sunne. The Greek’s titled the sun Helios, the Romans called the sun Sol and the Egyptian called the sun Ra. The different names for the Sun would include a name from every language. It has reined in the skies for all, allowing life to flourish on Earth. The Sun is our closest star with amazing power.
Our Sun is a G2 class star in the main sequence stage of life, or simply stated our Sun is a yellow-white star, it is in the middle of its life cycle. Middle age for a star means it is fusing hydrogen into helium in the center, or core. Although referred to as an average star by some, it is actually above average and I am not just saying that because it is our star. If you look at a small star’s mass and compare it to a large star, our sun falls in the middle, and you can say it is an average size; however, the small stars outnumber the large and average size stars combined making our star above average. Some books list our star in the upper ten percent of stars per mass. Others say out of all the stars in a seventeen light-year radius our star is in the upper four percent for size. Remember these are just comparison sizes and our Sun is just average for its mass. Placing a twist on the Sun’s size will help us to stand tall when aliens tease us about our average star. Here are some more facts to make you proud of that glowing ball in the sky:
Our star weights 4,385 plus 30 zeros pounds. That is the same weight as 332,900 Earths. Seventy-four percent of the sun is hydrogen, 24 percent is helium, and two percent is a small amount of other elements. The Sun is almost 900,000 miles wide at the equator; you would need a belt 2.8 million miles long to wrap around its middle. At the equator, the Suns rotation period is 26.8 earth days and at the poles the sun rotations period is 36 days. The surface of the Sun covers 2.4 trillion square miles. That sizes up the Sun. What about the power?
The sun is equal to a one thousand watt light bulb for every square inch. This visible light comes from a region called the photosphere; the temperature of this region is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. There are seven main regions to the Sun. The Sun generates its power in the core where it turns 700 million tons of hydrogen into 650 million tons of helium. This generates 386 billion billions mega watts. This happens every second for the last 4 billion years and will last another 4 billion years. The temperature of the core is 26 million degrees. The effects of all that solar energy radiated towards Earth.
The energy that reaches the Earth relates to 130 watts per square foot onto the Earth’s surface. So, next time you are out in the sun, think about the Sun’s power as you apply the sunscreen to your skin. For farther reading, NASA’s website or Nine Planets website is a great start and come to the Ingram Planetarium we are going to talk about our Sun all summer.
Mark Jankowski is a senior technician at Ingram Planetarium. Reach him at email@example.com or by calling 575-0033.