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All About The Sun! - October, 2021

All about the sun!

This one is probably not one you see on sunglass companies’ websites very often, but it is a topic we thought would be interesting to explore! Our entire industry, no, entire LIVES depend on the star at the center of our solar system--but what is it actually all about? Sit back, grab a drink, and reminisce about making solar systems out of styrofoam balls in middle school science class. We are about to go all in on the SUN!

What is it?
NASA defines our sun as follows: “Our Sun is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system. The Sun is about 93 million miles from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet.” They also go on to explain that the sun’s 27 million degree Fahrenheit temperature is “...hot enough to sustain nuclear fusion. This creates outward pressure that supports the star’s gigantic mass, keeping it from collapsing.”

What type of star is it?
The sun is currently a yellow-dwarf star. As all stars lose energy at some point, it will eventually expand into a red giant--engulfing Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth, before becoming a white dwarf. No worries though: scientists believe this event to be around 5 billion years away!

How does it affect our solar system? 
If the name doesn’t give it a way, the sun is the center of the entire system! Due to its grand size, objects like the planets, moons, asteroids, and other space debris are all kept in balance by its immense gravitational pull. Without this, objects could move freely through space.

Fun fact: the sun has rings!
Scientists have identified dust rings around the sun that they believe have been formed when the solar system was first forming 4.8 billion years ago. Unlike rings surrounding planets like those around Saturn, these rings form around the sun and are held in place thanks to planets like Mercury, Venus, and Earth.

What is the surface like?
The sun’s surface (as we call it) is known as the photosphere; it is actually just the first layer of the solar atmosphere that contains visible light. It is much cooler than the center of the core, but still hot enough to make carbons like diamond and graphite boil. Above the photosphere are the chromosphere and corona, and this is where we see activity like sunspots and solar flares.

What is solar weather and how does it affect us on Earth?
Solar weather occurs when lots of energy and particles are emitted from the sun. As the gases and makeup of the sun are constantly changing, this can lead to some pretty common events. In fact, geomagnetic storms have led to disruptions of daily life and technology for most of human history! In 1859, a solar flare event triggered telegraph machines around the world to malfunction and spark--and accompanying auroras reported the next morning before dawn were apparently bright enough for people to read a piece of paper in the middle of the night! While we have no way to prevent these storms from happening, their ability to disrupt everything from communications to the power grid are certainly something scientists keep a very close eye on.

Can the sun save us?
As the world becomes more and more aware of climate change, renewable energy sources like solar power seem to be in the news every single week. The most abundant energy resource on the planet, over 10,000 times the world’s current energy use strikes our planet continuously. With that said, there is a lot of room to grow as less than 1/10 of 1% of the world's energy comes from solar. If the world can continue to invest in solar and other renewable energy sources, many scientists predict that adverse climate effects from a warming planet can be slowed, if not reversed. 

At SunHeist we love adventuring outside, enjoying the planet’s beautiful places and creatures (including us) dependent on the sun for survival. So the next time you throw on a pair of Aviators, or grab a pair for Sports, take a moment to reflect on how amazing the sun actually is, and how amazing it could be for all of humanity!