The sun is truly “the star of your birth”, for it provides us with heat, light, and even vitamin D, as well as the energy that plants need to supply us with food.
The Sun in our Galaxy
It is the nearest star, and one of several hundred billion stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Our sun is located about halfway out from the center of our spiral-shaped galaxy and all of the stars we see are a part of that galaxy. Our galaxy is one of 100 billion galaxies that the Hubble Space Telescope has photographed in the universe.
Other Sun Facts
The sun is brighter and larger than most of the stars in our galaxy, for most stars are dim red dwarfs. There are giant and super giant stars – the ones we mostly see in the night sky – that are hundreds and thousands of times bigger and more luminous. Our sun is composed of about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium, with small amounts of other elements, mostly oxygen and carbon. The sun’s surface is about 10000 °F. Inside, the temperature soars to about 23 million °F where the nuclear fusion reactions take place, converting the hydrogen to helium and producing the energy that keeps us alive. The sun is about 5 billion years old and has enough hydrogen fuel to continue for about another 5 billion years.
The sun’s apparent path across the sky, the ecliptic, is actually a result of our planet earth’s path as it travels around the sun. The planets and the moon do not move in the sky exactly like the sun, but are found in a band above and below the ecliptic called the zodiac, from Greek “circle of the little animals”. The zodiac extends 8 to 9 degrees north and south of the ecliptic in the sky.