Sun Trivia

The number of sunspots is closely related to the complexity of the Sun's magnetic field that extends past its surface.

Since the magnetic field of the Sun is so important, scientists observe the Sun in as many wavelengths as possible that give insight into the configuration and dynamics of the field.

The Sun visible to our eyes does not have a solid surface such as that of the Earth or the Moon.

Above the photosphere are two additional layers, the chromosphere and corona, which were first identified at eclipses of the Sun by the Moon.

The chromosphere is an inhomogeneous layer extending 10,000 km above the photosphere. It is best thought of as the transition from the photosphere to the corona.

The middle region of Sun is called the Chromosophere.
All planets in our solar system, save Earth, are named after an ancient Roman god or goddess.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the first populated land where the Sun will rise in the new millennium (and at the beginning of any other year) is at Kahuitara Point (44° 16' S 176° 9' W) on Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands, a dependency of New Zealand.

It takes eight minutes for light from the sun to reach the earth.

The northern lights occur near the north pole of earth. The phenomena is known as the aurora borealis when it occurs in the northern hemisphere and as the aurora australis when it occurs in the southern hemisphere.

Auroral phenomena occur on all planets with atmospheres and planetary magnetic fields (aurorae have been observed on Jupiter). The name aurora borealis comes from the latin for northern dawn.

The Sun drives the weather on planet Earth. The winds and circulation of ocean patterns are all affected by the Sun's energy output.

One effect of the Sun's output on the geospace environment is auroral phenomena. Other phenomena affect communications, navigation and our climate.

The very outer extent of the Sun proper is the tenuous corona which can extend several million kilometers into the interplanetary medium. Such extensions of the solar atmosphere produce the striking images seen at the times of solar eclipses.

The Sun is a giant, natural thermonuclear reactor that converts hydrogen to helium in its core to produce the heat we sense on our faces as sunshine.

Lightning is 5 times hotter than the Sun.

The Earth is actually closer to the Sun during the Northern hemisphere's winter (when the weather is colder), and further away during the warm summer months!

Our sun is expected to last about 5 billion more years. It has already been in existence about 4.5 billion years.

The sun is 93 million miles from earth, yet it's 270,000 times closer than the next nearest star.

The sun contains 99% of all the mass in our solar system.

During a total solar eclipse, local temperatures can drop up to 20F degrees.

A cosmic year is the amount of time it takes the Sun to revolve around the center of the Milky Way, about 225 million years.

Particles from solar storms interact with Earth's magnetic field to produce the aurora borealis. Fireworks of a similar kind, if not so bright, but alive in shimmering waves of color and brilliance, may soon be visible around the globe as the Sun approaches the peak of its 11-year cycle of storms.

A space shuttle crew flew through an aurora sown by a solar flare in 1985, and the astronauts took videos of gigantic arcs of light undulating over the Pacific.

During solar tempests, the aurora grows stronger and expands southward. The lag between eruption and expansion is the time it takes the burst of solar particles to traverse 93 million miles of space.

The amount of energy produced by the sun in a 2 week period equals the combined stored energy of all the coal, iron and natural gas reserves known to man.

When the Sun finally becomes a white dwarf, it's luminosity as viewed from Earth will appear brighter than that of 100 full moons.

When the Sun goes supernova, Earth's surface and atmosphere will resemble that of Venus, while the surface of Mars will mime that of the Earth's.

If the Sun were to become a neutron star, it's rotational period would be 1,000 times per second!

Comets' tails point away from the Sun at all times. So, when a comet is moving away from the Sun, its tail is actually leading. Comet tails are caused by dust and gas being lost from the comet and then pushed away from the Sun by the solar wind (charged particles moving out from the Sun) and by radiation pressure from the Sun.

The Sun has enough energy to burn yet another 5 billion years.

Venus is the 3rd brightest object in the sky! Only the sun and moon are brighter.

A Tezcucan myth of why the Moon isn't bright as the Sun.

The Sun and Moon were originally equally bright. But the gods did not think this was very good, so they decided to stop it at once. One god took a hare and threw it at the face of the moon. The hare struck the moon, and made a dark blotch that dimmed the Moon's brightness forever.

The Sun is a typical G2 star. G stars are classified as having a temperature in the range of 5000 to 6000 K, and a color ranging from white to yellow.

The composition of the Sun is primarily hydrogen, followed by rapidly decreasing amounts of almost every element.

The diameter of the Sun is 1.4 million kilometers, and is about 150 million km away from the Earth. In contrast, the diameter of the Earth is 12735 km, about 1/100 the size of the Sun.

The distance from the Earth to the Sun varies throughout the year. At perihelion (closest approach) the distance is 147 million km, and at aphelion (farthest) the distance is 152 million km. Due to this distance variation, the Sun will appear about 3% bigger at perihelion than at aphelion.

Note that the Earth's seasons are due to the inclination of the Earth's equator with respect to the Earth's orbital plane, which is about 23 degrees. The Earth-Sun distance variation has only an incredibly small effect in temperature.

The Sun's age is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years. It should remain more or less as it is for another 5.5 billion years, although it will continually be undergoing changes as it consumes its fuel through fusion.

The light or photons emitted from the Sun cover a broad spectrum from very long wavelengths such as radio to very short wavelengths such as xray.

Eclipses were probably first "recorded" prior to 1948 B.C., and telescopic observations of the Sun's surface began around 1610. It was at this time that the sunspots could be systematically observed and were, by Galileo, Fabricius, Scheiner and Harriot.

CMEs occur perhaps once a month or so during solar minimum, and up to twice or more a day at solar maximum. The Sun's most recent max was in 1989 and the next will be in approximately 2000. It is now approaching minimum which should occur in mid-1996.

Solar max and min referred initially to the number of sunspots observed on the surface of the Sun at any time.
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