The sun is a truly incredible object if you think about it. It is the source of all life on Earth in a lot of ways. What’s more is that we can use its energy to create electricity. It’s fair to say that our planet would be a barren rock if the sun didn’t exist. You might think that you know everything there is about the sun. Chances are that you probably know a lot. However, the sun is so important that there are facts about it that you probably never even heard of, facts that come from niches and disciplines that you might not be familiar with.
In this article we are going to be telling you eight interesting and fun facts about the sun. These facts won’t just intrigue you and amaze you, they are also going to pique your interest about the center of our solar system. Without further ado, here are eight amazing facts about the sun that you have definitely never heard of, and are really going to enjoy reading about!
#1 The Mythology of The Sun in Different Cultures
It seems like human society has always given importance to the sun. It’s understandable that this was the case. After all, even primitive societies would have noticed the ball of fire in the sky. They would have realized how important its warmth was. This lead to many cultures worshipping the sun as a deity. If you think about this is actually pretty logical. What better deity could there be than something so magical that helps society out in so many different ways? The most pertinent factor in this is that the sun is so visibly powerful.
Ancient Egypt is perhaps the oldest advanced society we know about. To put them into perspective, they were building the Great Pyramid at Giza over five thousand years ago! They placed a lot of value in the sun as a deity. In their belief system, a god named Amun created the sun. Amun is not the Egyptian God of the Sun, though. This title belongs to Ra. The two are closely related, and Amun-Ra is a term often used to describe both entities as one.
These myths continued to Ancient Greece. Their beliefs were a little bit different than those of the Egyptians, though. They believed that the sun was the glorious chariot of their god Apollo. This is why the mission to reach the moon was also called the Apollo Project!
Lots of qualities have been ascribed to the sun in various myths. Many cultures referred to the sun as being wise. Strength and power are also often associated with this star.
#2 What Do The Stats Look Like?
Statistics are an important way of understanding the world around us. They can also put into perspective just how mighty the sun truly is. Scientists estimate that the sun is about 5 billion years old. You might think of it as a ball of fire, but it’s actually more of a ball of hot plasma. This is an element that is unique to stars.
You might think that the sun can’t be far since it manages to warm the Earth so well. It’s actually about 143 million kilometers away. And that’s just when the Earth is at a point in its orbit where its closest to the sun. This is called the perihelion and it only happens once a year. At all other times the Earth is actually even further away from the sun.
The reason behind why the sun can still heat the Earth even though it’s so far is because of how hot it is. It is basically a giant nuclear reactor in the sky. It’s unimaginably hot. Earth actually can’t withstand its full heat. It’s only habitable because its atmosphere takes away about 30% of the energy that the sun sends. If you look at it in solar power terms, the sun can provide about 1 kilowatt of energy per square meter per hour. This depends on lots of factors though. Different areas get different levels of sunlight. Weather conditions also play a role.
#3 It Can Provide Lots of Power
The light of the sun is useful for power production. Solar radiation can enter solar panels and cause a chemical reaction. The silicon solar cells start to become hotter. As they heat up, the protons and neutrons within start to push electrons out. These electrons can then be turned into electricity. Solar power can be used to power all kinds of objects through this method. It’s actually quite simple. This just goes to show how effective an energy source the sun really is.
To understand how much power you can get, you need to think of it in watts. This is a unit that is used to measure power. A single solar panel can generate about 200-250 watts of energy. This means that a single solar panel could be enough to power an entire home. Solar panel arrays can produce even more power in large quantities. In fact, about 200,000 miles of solar panels would generate enough electricity to power the entire world. This is about 0.003% of the empty space that the world currently has.
If you think about places like the Sahara Desert, they are perfect for solar power. This desert gets intense sunlight all year round. It is a vast space. Using just 200,000 miles of it could solve all of the energy problems in the world. Countries like China are already working on a solar farm here. Endless renewable energy could help improve a lot of people’s lives. It can also really boost the economy.
#4 Solar Power Has Lots of Uses
You can turn solar energy into electricity. But this isn’t the only way it can be used. Sometimes you can use solar power by itself. The most common way of doing this is by producing heat. Heat production is important for very cold areas. Using solar power for heat is a simpler process than turning it into electricity. The same photovoltaic cells can be used here as well. This means that we already have the equipment required for this sort of thing.
Solar lights are also quite common. In fact, in a lot of poor areas they are the standard. Poor places often don’t have access to grid electricity. Solar panels are expensive so they can’t get those either. However, bulbs are made that can be run on solar power. These items don’t need extra devices to make them work. This makes them perfect for poverty alleviation. Illuminating poor areas can bring a lot of prosperity there. It can help bridge the gap between the rich and poor in the world.
Passive solar systems also exist. These just use the spare sunlight hitting buildings. Office buildings in particular can take advantage of this. Corporate headquarters are often tall structures. They have a lot of free real estate on the building. If solar power is generated through these spaces, a lot of corporate energy requirements can be met. This can be great for the economy as well as corporate profit rates.
#5 Solar Power Can Improve Human Health
The way humanity lives is not sustainable. Fossil fuels release a lot of gases into the air. These gases trap heat from the sun. Each year the average global temperature increases. At this rate, cold parts of the world will end up becoming extremely hot. Hot areas will become uninhabitable. Increasing temperatures are causing lots of disasters. The countless wildfires in America are a good example. People die in such disasters. Fires also release smoke into the sky which reduces air quality.
Speaking of air quality, fossil fuels ruin that directly too. The air we breathe is just not safe for us anymore. This is affecting our children as well. They don’t get clean air while they are growing up. This can cause lots of defects later on in life.
Solar power can change all of this. Humans need energy. The sun can provide it without any of the negative side effects. It does not produce any air pollution. This means that the air can become cleaner for everyone. Children will no longer have their futures harmed by air pollution. Greenhouse gases can also be reduced. If this happens the atmosphere of our planet will start to repair itself. We just need to give it the chance to reverse some of the damage we have caused. Switching to solar power can help stabilize global temperatures. This will guarantee a safe future for all of humanity.
#6 Solar Panels Are Becoming Cheaper
A common criticism of solar power is that it is too expensive. This is starting to change. As technology progresses, more efficient solar panels are made. The cost of making them goes down too. It’s just a matter of time before solar panels become affordable for everyone. They are already becoming commonplace in poor parts of the world. If you look at historical prices, solar panels have already become a lot more affordable if you adjust for inflation.
The first solar cells cost $300 per watt. It had a 1 percent efficiency rate, something that most people ridiculed quite a bit. Pretty soon, though, solar cells began to improve. Efficiency was at 4% in 1954, and soon after that a breakthrough was achieved. After the breakthrough, solar cells had an 11% efficiency.
Costs have gone down too. They went all the way down to 20$ per watt in the 70s. Now the cost is $0.12 per kilowatt! This means that an entire solar setup including installation for less than $17,000. If that seems like a lot, just look at your energy bills. You will pay about $13,000 in electricity bills over ten years, and this is how much the installation will cost after rebates and other discounts.
This is just the beginning. Solar panels are going to become far more efficient and cheaper in the future. It is exciting to see how things will slowly start to change. With so much research being done, another breakthrough is bound to happen.
#7 Solar Power Has Both Advantages & Disadvantages
While solar power has lots of benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Acknowledging its disadvantages is important. It can allow us to improve how we use it and reduce the negative aspects. That said, we should start by talking about the advantages of which there are many.
One advantages is that solar power is so abundant. There is no chance of it running out or depleting. It also doesn’t cost anything to get it. Expense is required to convert it into electricity, but the energy source itself does not need to be mined or extracted. Its low environmental impact is also a big advantage.
That said, its dependence on weather conditions can often be an issue. It also currently costs more than your average grid supply. This cost is offset by free energy over time but the initial expense is still quite hefty.
These disadvantages are slowly being addressed. Better energy storage is being developed. Batteries are becoming more durable and longer lasting. This is why disadvantages need to be acknowledged. If they are then solutions for them can always be found. One major problem that needs a solution is climate change. Solar power can help fight against climate change. However, if things keep getting worse then solar power might become less effective. This is a long term issue that many researchers are working on. It’s fair to say that if more people use solar power, climate change will slow down. This means that solar power will continue to be viable in the future.
#8 Solar Panels Have a Long History
You might think of solar panels as new technology. However, solar power has been used for thousands of years. The earliest examples are from nearly 3,000 years ago. Solar power was used to start fires during this era. Things started to get more advanced as time went by. During the time of the Ancient Greeks, rudimentary solar panels had started to be used. These solar panels were vastly different from the ones we use today, though.
The solar panels that we are referring to here were actually mirrors. They were called “burning mirrors”. The way they worked was that sunlight was reflected off of them and made more intense. This allowed ritualistic torches to be lit. This was the extent of human knowledge around solar power. Eventually, though, a big change came in the 19th Century.
In the year 1839, a physicist by the name of Edmond Becquerel was conducting an experiment that involved metal electrodes forming a cell. This lead to him discovering the photovoltaic process. This was the discovery that put the gears in motion. It was only a matter of time before we realized that you can produce electricity from this resource! Only 50 years later, the first solar cell was produced and it was made out of selenium. Numerous other advancements over the next century lead to solar power being as effective and well known as it is today!
Most of us take the sun for granted. It is an incredible entity that exists so close to us. By learning more about it, we can learn fundamental aspects of the nature of our universe. Not only that but some of the facts about our sun are just downright interesting even if you look at them from a non-academic perspective! We hope that you enjoyed all these facts. We also hope that they have sparked an interest in you about the sun. The more you learn about it, the more you will realize that the well of knowledge never runs dry!