El Sol

My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is the sun.

I’d been at NASA a few months maybe when, in perhaps some random conversation, David said something to me about the sun exploding or dying or something like that. I forget the exact details, but I remember being shocked. “The sun’s going to do what?!?” And if my memory is right (this happened a while ago) we continued to talk about how it really wouldn’t matter if the sun exploded or not because life on Earth, and maybe even Earth itself, would be destroyed long before then.

David summarized it well in his post about the sun a while back:

“Somewhere around the 5 billion year from now mark, the sun will expand into a red giant, becoming so large that will encompass everything through the orbit of Mars, easily including the current orbit of this little planet we call home. For those not sure about the science, being inside a star would be hazardous to the health of any life on the planet.”

Until you really stop and think about it, you don’t really realize how much we depend on our sun and how amazing it is that the solar system works. We are the perfect distance from the sun to not be too hot or too cold for life. Just a fraction closer or further away and this planet wouldn’t be habitable. That distance is what allows us to have water, and water is essential for life. The science of it all is amazing.

The sun also brings us so much beauty. Sunrises, sunsets, the way it peeks through the clouds emitting rays of light. It is the sun shining on drops of rain that creates gorgeous rainbows.

The sun is such a gift, a gift that gives us life and beauty. And yet it’s this thing that we take for granted, and squint at, and get mad about it when it makes us hot in summer or doesn’t come around enough in winter.


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