Thursday Lesson * Sun

The Sun is made of hot gases, containing many of the same materials we find here on the Earth. These materials, called elements, include hydrogen, helium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and iron. You can find all of these on any periodic table of elements.

Did you know that most of the atoms in our bodies were made inside stars? As the famous scientist and educator Carl Sagan says, we are “star stuff.”

Why do we study the Sun?

Without the Sun, life on Earth would not exist. Our planet would be a frozen dark ball, drifting dead in space. We need the Sun for light, heat and energy. With the Sun, plants can grow, and animals can eat. The Sun’s output changes over time. These changes affect not only our daily lives and climate, but also our communications, such as by satellites. The more we know about the Sun, the better we can deal with these changes.

In the past, we know the Sun was a little different than it is now, and at those times the Earth experienced ice ages. During the most recent ice age, almost all of Canada and the Northern US was covered in a huge sheet of ice about a mile thick! (That’s about 1.6 km.) Even recently (the late 1600s) Europe and North America were a bit cooler than they are now, experiencing a little ice age, and changes in the Sun were most likely responsible.

The ozone hole is something different. Ozone is important to humans because it shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The chemicals from leaky refrigerators and air conditioners make their way up in to highest part of the Earth’s atmosphere. Way up there, these chemicals destroy ozone, and scientists have noticed recently that the layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere is becoming thin in some places. Scientists must study this so we can understand why it is occurring, and to take action now to protect it. It is interesting, however, that ozone is considered a pollutant when it is close to the ground. It hurts plants and trees, and our lungs. But we need it way up high to shield us from the UV.

Also, learning more about the Sun helps us to understand better other stars. And this helps us understand better the universe in which we live.

Today Kids Books :

From the author of Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years comes a new picture book about space―
this time starring our Sun!

Meet Sun: He’s a star! And not just any star―he’s one in a billion. He lights up our solar system and makes life possible. With characteristic humor and charm, Stacy McAnulty channels the voice of Sun in this next celestial “autobiography.” Rich with kid-friendly facts and beautifully illustrated, Sun! One in a Billion is an equally charming and irresistible companion to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years.

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