Thursday, June 8, 2017

2017 Eclipse Corner #1 - The Energy of the Sun

2017 Eclipse Corner #1          The Energy of the Sun

The Sun is a star which has enough mass to produce gravity that will pull a whole system of objects around it. Quite a bit bigger than the earth, 1,300,000 earths could fit into the Sun. Our solar system includes 8 planets, several sub-planets, asteroids, comets, meteors, dust and gas. The Sun actually contains 99.8% of the system’s mass. The Sun fits in a package of stars we see in our night sky that range from blue to red in color. The more massive stars produce more heat and have the color blue. The smaller mass stars are less hot and are red. Our Sun as you have seen is yellow and considered an average size star. It is true, blue is a hotter color than red. A red electric stove burner can be very hot but a blue burner would melt the pots and pans.

If you have not seen different colored stars, here is a good place to look in February – the constellation Orion.  Orion, the hunter, will be slightly tilted in the east –southeast in February. Rigel is a very big star exhibiting the color blue. Betelgeuse is at a different stage in star development, but exhibits the cool color of red. It’s fun to look for the color of stars.

The Sun contains an enormous amount of energy we see and feel as heat and light. What produces this star energy? Early man compared it to a fire, but who is throwing all the wood on constantly?  Since the 1920s, astronomers believe this is nuclear energy. There are two kinds of nuclear reactions. Fission is splitting the atom which is what we did in building the atomic bomb and in our nuclear power plants of today. Fusion is combining atoms. This is what the Sun does. Man is still working on providing energy by Fusion.

The fusion reaction begins because of a massive squeezing effect of the gravity of all the mass of the Sun. The Sun is made of hydrogen and helium. Basically, the Sun’s gravity pushes 4 hydrogen atoms together to become 1 helium atom plus a little left over which produces the heat and light of the Sun. Astronomers believe this fusion reaction will keep “burning “ hydrogen for another 5 billion years.
Our Moon looks to be equal to the size of the Sun, but the Sun is 400 times greater than the Moon. The Sun is just 400 times farther away than the Moon. Therefore, we have the opportunity to witness that most amazing of spectacles, the Moon completely blocking out the site of the Sun, a total eclipse of the Sun.  Future Eclipse Corners will show you more about astronomy and the upcoming total Solar Eclipse coming on August 21, 2017.           –Dan Slais

Join us August 18-21, 2017 for Midnight at Noon - a 4-day Music Festival and Eclipse Viewing Event.  For more information visit our website

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