The Life-Giving Sun

The life-giving sun is the earth’s primary blessing. Our existence hugely depends on this star. Most of us lack the knowledge of how great this big ball of burning heat actually is.

To imagine life without the sun is to surround ourselves with pure darkness. Blessed with a pair of eyes the human being as well as other members of the animal kingdom enjoy the sights of so many of nature’s wonders.

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The sun rises as it does every morning. The crops are still covered with dew.

Water molecules in the air continually bombard surfaces, like blades of grass. Some of the molecules stick, forming a very thin film of water. This film may not last long, as the water evaporates. The evaporation rate depends on the temperature of the water, which is the same temperature as the blades of grass.

At this point, the film grows into dew drops. And here comes the life-giving sun, radiating the earth with all its plant and animal life with nourishing rays of sunshine.

Tomorrow morning, the cycle starts all over again.

The sun is the ultimate source of almost all kinds of energy on earth, either directly or indirectly. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are the transformed forms of plants (and animals) which once lived on the earth and grew capturing the energy of the sun. Biomass is a product of photosynthesis where the sun has the major role. Hydro-electricity depends upon the water cycle which again is dependent on solar radiation. It is that primary source of energy that comes to us from nature.

The Sun is simple and complex at the same time. Our life-giving star is made up of layers that encapsulates its burning core. One of the wonders of the sun is the solar energy that travels from the sun to the Earth in rays. Some are light rays that we can see.

Some are rays we can’t see, like x-rays. Energy in rays is called radiant energy. The sun is a star, made of mainly hydrogen and helium. It sends out huge amounts of energy every day in every direction. Most of this energy goes off into space. Even though only a tiny fraction of the sun’s energy reaches the Earth, it is still more energy than we can use.

The Greenhouse Effect

When the rays reach the Earth, some bounce off clouds back into space—the rays are reflected. The Earth absorbs most of the radiant energy. This solar energy becomes thermal energy, which warms the Earth and the air around it, the atmosphere. Without the sun, we couldn’t live on the Earth—it would be too cold. This is called the greenhouse effect.

One of the wonders of the sun that is truly amazing is called photosynthesis. Plants use the light from the sun to grow. Plants absorb (take in) the solar energy through their leaves and use it to grow. The plants keep some of the solar energy in their roots, fruits, and leaves. They store it as chemical energy.

The energy stored in plants is the beginning of most food webs. When herbivores and omnivores eat plants and food made from plants, this solar energy is stored in their bodies.
We use the energy to grow and move. We use it to pump our blood, think, see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. We use energy for everything we do. When carnivores and omnivores eat meat, it also can be traced to the sun. Animals eat plants to grow. The animals store the plants’ energy in their bodies. The energy moves from producers to consumers through the food chain.       

The sun is going down so that the creatures of the earth can rest. But tomorrow, the life-giving sun will rise again as it did for so many millennia. Rest assured, the faithful sun will be back for God’s blessings never ends.

The Ultraviolet and Infrared Rays

Our star, the life-giving sun, is benevolent, yes! But be careful of the ultraviolet rays. On 22 February 1801,German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter discovered UV radiation. In general, this achievement is less well known than his work on galvanism. Fortunately, only a few percent of the energy arrives as UV; the rest is half visible light, half (invisible) Infrared radiation (IR). In addition, the atmosphere takes out most of the UV before it reaches the ground. The ozone layer in the lower stratosphere (just above the highest clouds) is especially important in protecting living things from UV exposure. The UV is dangerous to living organisms; it damages eyes, human skin and tree leaves, among other things.

Johann Wilhelm Ritter, German physicist, discovered UV radiation.

British astronomer William Herschel discovered infrared light in 1800. Infrared light, is a type of radiant energy that’s invisible to human eyes but that we can feel as heat. All objects in the universe emit some level of IR radiation, but two of the most obvious sources are the sun and fire. Household appliances such as heat lamps and toasters use IR radiation to transmit heat.
The energy coming in from the Sun must be returned to space to keep Earth from overheating. In fact, the Earth sends exactly as much heat out to space as it receives from the Sun.

Sir William Herschel, British astronomer discovered IR light in 1800