Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Blazing Miracle of Sunlight on My Skin

2011 photo by Blaine
We live in the Texas Hill Country, and as we descended out of the hills on our way to the gym one winter morning, I noticed our sun - an astounding blazing star - coming  into view above the eastern horizon.

I know what the sun is. It is one of about 200 billion stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. Relative to these other stars, our sun is considered a "medium-sized" star, which means it's diameter is over 100 times that of Earth. It consists of extremely hot plasma, interlaced with electromagnetic fields. The heat is the thermonuclear energy that is released when hydrogen atoms in the sun's core are forced by it's massive gravity to fuse into helium atoms. Every second the sun creates the equivalent of millions of hydrogen bombs of energy every. The sun's gravity contains most of this energy, keeping it from blowing itself apart.

This process has been going on for more than four billion years and has used up half of the sun's original stores of hydrogen. The same violent process powers all stars. It is what our sun is.

Some of this energy escapes the sun's gravity and radiates into space and about eight minutes later the photons reach our planet. The solar radiation is diffused by our atmosphere, and the effect is what we call daylight.

Standing in the parking lot outside my gym, I felt the left side of my face warming. The sun's radiation was colliding with my skin, stirring up the molecules creating the sensation of heat. The other side of my face remained cool. I turned around and I felt the other side of my face warming.

I gave our star another quick sideways glance. I don't actually look at it because the solar radiation is so intense it would damage my eyes. I did't see a cartoon image. I didn't see a two-dimensional orb as in a photograph. I saw what it is, a mind-boggling massive spherical ball only 93 million miles away, alive with millions of fusion reaction explosions that continuously project unimaginable energy into space. This is the energy that warms us, so that the water on our planet is liquid, and our climates are compatible to life. And which enables photosynthesis on the surface of the planet, which is the process that creates plants, which are eaten by animals - both of which we humans use as food.

Knowing all this lets me perceive the sun for what it is and makes it impossible for me to take it for granted. It enables me to to appreciate it with awe and wonder.

Further thoughts about our sun...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That is such a beautiful picture and makes you want not to take the sun for granted!