Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks
There are a lot of things that people might not know about the sun. This is because they might not have looked up the information, or perhaps just were not interested enough to pay attention. The truth is that there are a lot of fun facts that someone might find interesting that perhaps they did not know before.
- Did you know that the sun is just a large star that is at the center of the solar system? All of the planets orbit or move around this bright, large star.
- What is the sun made out of? It is a large star or ball of gasses such as hydrogen and helium. It is 70% hydrogen and 28% helium.
- Exactly how large is the sun? The suns mass is a giant sphere of around 864,000 miles in diameter. The total mass of the sun equals approximately 333,000 different Earths.
- The sun also has an age as well, not many people know this. It is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old. The universe is estimated to be around 13 billion years old.
- The sun is around 92 million miles from Earth, and stays a steady temperature of around 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit, although as you continue to the core of the sun it becomes much hotter. This is why it is good that it is so far from the Earth.
The sun is also classified into a specific type of star known as the yellow dwarf star. What exactly is a yellow dwarf star and how can the sun classified as one? These types of stars can be classified as yellow dwarf stars if they burn at between 9,080 to 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit, they have to last on average around ten billion years before the fuel from their makeup burns out, and they have to be able to produce enough energy through something called nuclear fusion. The sun has entered into the phase known as the ‘main sequence,’ which is basically saying that the sun is middle aged. Towards the end of its long life cycle, it will become very large and look like a giant red star before it eventually collapses into a dense white dwarf star.
The sun also has layers that are very distinct. There are four layers within the sun. Each of these layers has unique properties which makes them different from one another. The core is the center of the sun which is extremely hot, dense, and takes up around a quarter of the interior radius. The photosphere is the outside part of the sun that can be seen from the Earth. This is the source of the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared sunlight. These three things are all forms that come from electromagnetic radiation, some are visible and the others are invisible and only transmitted through their wavelengths. The chromosphere and corona are the other layers of the sun above the photosphere. These two layers are only visible when there is a solar eclipse.
You might have also heard about sunspots. These are regions within the surface of the sun and they can burn thousands of degrees cooler than the surrounding areas. Since there is such a difference in temperatures they tend to be darker than the surface and can be seen with the naked eye. Very complex magnetic storms form these sun spots. They are as large as 50,000 miles in diameter. Ancient astronomers knew about sun spots, however there are many things that are yet to be discovered.
Eclipses are very well known. The total solar eclipse takes place when the inner shadow of the moon passes in the middle of the sun and the Earth, and this blocks out the entire sun and is the most popular of eclipses. Eclipses only look total or full because of where the onlookers are, and only a small portion of the Earth experiences this event at any given time. The place that it happens depends on where the sun and the earth line up at the same time depending on the time of rotation of the Earth. There are also partial eclipses that can happen. This is when the moon partially covers the sun. Eclipses only last for a short amount of time, and only happen once every hundred years.
There are dangers of the sun that you might not have known about as well. Having exposure to the sun without protection can lead to burns on the skin, premature aging of the skin, and other skin complications. Cancer is also another factor. This is because the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun are a large indicator in a lot of skin cancer cases. Viewing the sun without having the proper eye gear on can cause eye damage. Damage can also be done during an eclipse. Protective clothing, shade, eye wear, and sunscreen should be used during direct exposure to sunlight. Sunglasses can be worn to reduce eye strain due to bright conditions. Protective eye wear should be used when using telescopes to view the sun or during an eclipse. There are filters that can be attached to a telescope in order to protect the eyes from the sun.
When going over the key points of the sun, it also brings us back to the fun facts that we have learned about the sun as well. The sun is a star, and it is right in the center of the solar system. It is a very large ball that is made up of hydrogen and helium. It is 4.5 billion years old, and has at least as long, if not more years to burn bright. It is known as a nuclear fusion furnace because of the gases that make it up and because of how hot it burns. It is a typical yellow dwarf star, yet it gives us more such as sunspots and eclipses that other yellow dwarf stars are not able to provide. It provides our Earth with energy and light. The sun does have dangers, but if using the proper protection you can enjoy it to the full extent and learn even more about it.