Sun Fun Facts
Did you know?
That many ancient cultures worshipped the Sun as a god? They believed the
solar eclipse was an indication that the Sun was angry with them and offered
prayer and sacrifice to appease its anger.
Many who worshipped the Sun as god imagined a resemblance to man. For example:
The ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was their God (Rah) sailing across
the sky in his ship.
The ancient Greeks believed the Sun to be a chariot being driven by the Sun-God
(there were two gods, Apollo and Helios).
For centuries, Japanese emperors were worshipped as descendants of the sun-goddess,
The Inca rulers of Peru were also believed to be descendants of the sun.
Many American Indian tribes worshipped the sun. The Hopi Indians held special
sun ceremonies at the time of the solstices and in mid-summer. Some Plains Indians
held sun dances that would continue for over a week.
Numerous religious practices were born from fear of the sun and elaborate ceremonies
were developed to appease the sun-god. For example, every year the Aztecs would
choose one of their handsomest men to represent the sun-god for a year. The
lucky one would be treated as a god, with favors and privileges visited upon
him for the year. At the end of that year, however, he would be sacrificed in
order to keep the sun moving and another man would be chosen for the next year.
That plans are in the works for installing a sundial on Mars? The idea
originated with Bill Nye (of public television's "Bill Nye the Science
Guy") and Woodruff Sullivan, professor of astronomy at University of Washington
(UW) and a sundial expert. For the past several months the two have been part
of a team, along with a host of others, that has been designing and assembling
the sundial at UW. The sundial, along with other instruments that make up the
Athena Precursor Experiment, is scheduled to land on Mars in January 2002 on
NASA's Mars Surveyor mission. In a few years, anyone desiring to do so will
be able to monitor the passage of Martian days and seasons on the Internet.
That one of Mankind's earliest achievements is the invention of the Sundial
and its use to mark the passage of time. The replication of the heavens in sundials
provided ancient civilizations with spiritual and aesthetic satisfaction. The
Egyptians used sundials as early as 1500 B.C. The dial of Ahaz is referenced
in the Old Testament, dating it at approximately 730 B.C. The Ancient Babylonians
were renowned astronomers. Their writings provided the definitive expertise
on sundials for over a millennium, until the Christian era. The Greeks and Romans
made extensive use of sundials, placing them in houses, tombs, temples, baths
and other public places. Later, the Arabs developed more complicated and accurate
sundials. The Chinese, Aztecs, Incas and Americans were also users of sundials.
By the 18th century, clocks and watches began to replace sundials, but were
often less reliable.
Man's effort to exact dominion over time gave rise to numerous social changes,
not all perceived as positive. Man's ability to track more exactly lead to more
restrictive scheduling that was not always welcomed. Indeed, some criticized
the sundial as a relentless "timekeeper," dictating when certain things
should be accomplished (e.g., mealtime, sleeping, etc.)
The standardization of the tracking of time became an issue in the 19th century
as railroads allowed faster and cheaper travel. It thus became more difficult
to tell the "true" or "exact" time at any time and place
in relation to its Western, or Eastern neighbor. The creation of standard time
zones solved the problem. In 1884, the United States was divided into the now-familiar
four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific.
That every person sees his or her own personal rainbow? Rainbows are
a band of colors formed as an arc by the reflection and refraction (or bending)
of the sun's rays inside raindrops. With the sun being behind the viewer, and
the rain in front, the rainbow is really an arc of light directly opposite the
sun bouncing off of certain raindrops. Because the person standing next to you
is looking at a slightly different angle, he sees light reflecting off of a
different set of raindrops - i.e., a different rainbow. Another interesting
fact: most think that the colors of a rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, indigo and violet when if fact they are made up of a continuum of colors;
the unaided eye cannot see many of the colors in the 'bow.
That approximately one million Earths can fit inside the Sun?
That lightning is 5 times hotter than the Sun? Air heated by lightning
is known to reach temperatures close to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, many
say that it is hotter than the Sun. In fact, because the Sun has four regions,
the Sun's temperature varies by region. The Photosphere (the Sun's surface)
is indeed cooler than lighting (about 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Still, the
remaining three regions are much, much hotter than lightning:
The Sun's central region is approximately 27 million degrees Fahrenheit
The Sun's atmosphere
The chronosphere and corona are approximately between 40,000 and 3 million
degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
In sum, it would be more accurate to say that lightning is 5 times hotter
than the Surface of the Sun.
In the beginning there was just the Sun and the starts. Even after mankind,
for a very long time, there was just the Sun and the stars. Astrology controlled
the actions of the most primitive of civilizations and for many years Astrology
has been an ignored subject, not even being recognized as a science, but during
the past two decades, astrology has re-emerged. In fact, for most of his presidency,
President Ronald Reagan's schedule was secretly coordinated through an astrologer.
What about you? Do you check your horoscope every day or just on your birthday?
Astrology has been in existence for as long as mankind has existed. A reference
to a constellation of the starts has been discovered dating back 95,000 years
ago. It is believed that the deepest laws of astrology were first discovered
in India. Indeed, mathematics was born out of the need for astrological calculations.
It was the Sumerian civilization (circa 6000 B.C.) that laid the foundation
for a scientific study of the constellation.
This ancient civilization intensely studied the sky and concluded that a direct
correlation existed between events on earth and the stars. Thus, Astrology was
born and many others have since followed. Today a body of knowledge exists,
ostensibly linking activities on earth to solar influences. Skeptics abound,
others point to coincidences that they say remain:
Maternity wards continue to report higher than normal rates of births during
Fish lay eggs at low tide (despite human experiments intended to dissuade them);
Birds migrate exactly 1 month before the first snow fall;
Every 11 years a nuclear explosion occurs on the sun, which is followed by
increased illnesses and turmoil on earth;
Birds tend to stop singing 24 hours before a solar eclipses and animals become
frightened during the eclipse.
Current Events on the Sun
Scientists can now see the far side of the Sun.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) (a $1 billion satellite operated
by NASA and the European Space Agency) enables scientists to "forecast"
solar disturbances up to a month before the effects are realized on earth. The
radiation and gases from these solar storms speed by Earth at more than 1 million
miles an hour and can cause the disruption of spacecraft, radio communication
and power systems. With the assistance of the Michelson Doppler Imager instrument,
SOHO can detect sound waves generated by the active regions on the far side
of the sun long before they become visible on the near side. SOHO is not capable
of day-to-day, long term forecasts, but SOHO's experiments are paving the way
for other sun-observing satellites in the not-so-distant future.
Is it possible the Sun has a heartbeat?
Because the Sun is made of gas, parts of its composition can spin at different
rates. From data collected from a sun-watching satellite and several solar observatories,
scientists from Stanford University have learned that the Sun contains two layers
of gas (the convection zone and the radiative zone) separated by a subsurface
(tachocline) deep within the sun that move and change speeds in opposite, but
synchronized, patterns, simulating a "heartbeat" of sorts. These changes
in rotation speed amongst the gas layers have definite cycles, which scientists
now believe could be related to the sun's enormous magnetic field and its 11-year
cycle of solar storms.
Cool links - just for Kids!
Passport to knowledge
Star Child - A Learning Center for Young Astronomers
Backwoods Home Magazine
Kids books about the sun (fact and fiction)