It has been a wonderful June hasn’t it with lots of lovely sunshine, and I do hope it will continue into July and August so we can all benefit from it over the holiday period. There is nothing worse than it being sunny over June and then on the first day of the holidays it starts to rain!
With so much Sun I thought I would look up some facts and figures about the Sun and they are amazing!
One million Earths could fit inside the Sun: If a hollow Sun was filled up with spherical Earths, then around 960,000 would fit inside. If the Earth could be squashed, it would fit in 1,300,000 times.
The Sun contains 99.86% of the mass in the Solar System: The mass of the Sun is approximately 330,000 times greater than that of Earth. It is almost three quarters Hydrogen, whilst the remaining mass is Helium.
Eventually, the Sun will consume the Earth: When all the Hydrogen has been burned, the Sun will continue burning Helium, during which time it will expand to engulf the Earth. At this stage it will become a red giant.
The Sun will one day be about the size of Earth: After its red giant phase, the Sun will collapse, retaining its enormous mass, but with the same volume as our planet. When this happens, it will be called a white dwarf.
Light from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth: Although this energy reaches Earth in a few minutes, it will have taken millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.
The Sun is middle-aged: At around 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has already burned off about half of its store of Hydrogen. The Sun is currently a type of star known as a Yellow Dwarf.
The temperature inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius: At the Sun’s core, energy is generated by nuclear fusion, as Hydrogen converts to Helium. If not for gravity, the Sun would explode like a giant bomb.
The Sun generates solar wind: This is a stream of charged particles along the sun’s magnetic field , which travel through the Solar System at approximately 450 kilometers per second.
The Sun is really amazing…..
I mention these mind boggling facts and figures, because most of us will I am sure be hoping, as we enter the main summer season, that we will have a good number of opportunities (in the back garden, on the beach, by a pool or maybe in the countryside) to soak up some of the sun’s light and warmth. As it does, it should I think give us good cause to wonder and consider the most amazing thing of all, that the sun brings us life and pleasure rather than the opposite given its nature! To put this another way, it is amazing that we are just the right distance from the sun, and the sun is just the right age (middle aged!), the right size and the right temperature that there might be life on earth. We are not too close to frazzle to a crisp, and not too far away that our world would be permanently frozen. Scientists have called our home the ‘goldilocks’ planet where the porridge is not too hot nor too cold, but at just the right temperature for life.
So, is it just a happy co-coincidence that I am alive and have enough level of life to be able to write the article and for you to read it? Well, it could be ‘chance’, but on the evidence, my belief is that it all points to the existence of a creator God behind the universe as the most reasonable and rational conclusion of who we are and why we are here. So, from the evidence I see in lots of ways, including of the sun, it does in my view and ‘in fact’, takes a lot more faith to be an atheist or agnostic!
So, will I be sunbathing and worshipping the sun this summer as if it is the only thing to worship? Well unfortunately I have fair skin and burn easily, but as I hopefully have opportunity to at least go for a walk, cycle and play golf in the sun (with a hat on and sun cream of course) it will make me think of worshipping the God who made the sun and me to be here to enjoy it. As Psalm 19 sums it up beautifully: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun….it rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other, nothing is hidden from its heat.”
With my prayers for an enjoyable July, hopefully in the warm summer sunshine
Revd James Hunt Rector of St Peters, Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upha
27th June 2023