December 3, 2013

On Stars

What is the Sun? Yes, it's a big ball of burning gasses... it's also a Star.
I can't tell you how many times I've have to tell that - not to five years olds - but to thirty year olds. A startling statistic is that somewhere close to 55% of the US adult population has no idea that the Sun is a star. So I'm going to talk about the sun a little bit, if you don't mind.
And yes, these are tailored to any and all ages.


Did you know that the sun is so huge, that 1,300,000 earths could fit right inside of it, snuggly. It's so huge that 99.9% of all the mass of our solar system is just the sun! That's pretty big! Have a look at the scale!

Did you know that light from the sun, going at light speed, takes about 8 minutes to reach us? That means, if the sun were to "go out", we wouldn't know for 8 full minutes! Saturn is even further away from the sun - sunlight takes over an hour to reach it!

Did you know that our sun is 4.5 billion years old? Our sun is middle aged, and will burn for over 5 billion more.

Did you know that the sun is about 5,778K hot on its photosphere? (that's the part of the sun you can see, though I don't recommend looking right at it!) That's almost 10,000 degrees fahrenheit! 

Most importantly - did you know our sun is a star? Just like all those other stars that fill the night sky, the sun is a star, only it is our Star, the center of our little stella neighborhood, of our solar system. The stars up there are suns to, only there are the suns to different planets, they have their own solar systems, their our neighborhoods. All of those solar systems together are in one gigantic stellar city - the milky way galaxy. It's made up of billions of stars, billions of suns!

Did you know that not every star is the same? There can be a lot of different colors! Just think of fire, how the red bit of the flame is safer than the yellow, which is hot, or the blue, which is much, much hotter. Stars burn differently, so they will be a different color.
Blue stars are the hottest; their motto seems to be "live fast, die young:" they burn up quicker than other stars, which is why they tend to be the youngest in the night sky. The Pleiades Star Cluster is only 25 million years old... that means it wasn't even around back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth!

Check out this awesome music video which explains the birth of stars... in a catchy song.

Ok, I'm sorry, I just had to. Stars are awesome. Our sun is awesome. And not just because I say so - I mean, these are huge gigantic nuclear fusion factories that hang around in space, giving us light and enabling us to live, which them BOOM die in a cosmic eruption, sending atoms this way and that, until they form together in a specific way on a specific plane to form...
You are made of starstuff. Don't you every forget that!

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