Friday, January 15, 2016

Surface of the Sun

I've always been a sun person, always had a certain reverence for it.  Us, our planet, and our solar system wouldn't have developed without the creation of our sun happening first.  It's birth, gave birth to everything else.

Sometimes, from here on earth, when I'm looking up at it, it looks like it could fit in my hand.  And it seems to shine in a kind of quiet, peaceful way; flickering here and there.  It brings such gorgeous light into my life in different ways everyday.  I like to watch it move around, smile at how it dances between buildings and find peace in how spreads out over fields and water. It is almost like a companion.

But that's just how I experience it here on earth.  Working at NASA with the sun people, I read and work on projects about the sun from a different perspective.  From it's surface. And the  surface is probably the most  intense and volatile place in our entire solar system.  The surface is unimaginably hot and super, super active.  That peaceful, quiet, almost candle-like-flickering sun we see down here is constantly erupting with massive explosions of energy.  The video below below in text shows the massively destructive and powerful nature of the sun's surface. I recently read about a solar flare, a type of massive eruption from the sun's surface, that was 7x the size of earth...and that was just one flare.  The sun's diameter itself is over 100 times the size of earth's diameter and these eruptions are happening all the time.

Although I am continually amazed by the beauty of the sun's light and how it shines on me and the world around me, I also stand in reverence to the other things the sun is that aren't the happy, hippie-Aaluk things I tend to gravitate toward. Yes, it is light for us, life, actually, but only as long as we stay where we are.  Too much closer it would kill us and indeed, when it finally does implode in something like 4 billion years, it will kill us - if we haven't already killed ourselves off.  But right now, I can sit and bask in its beauty and its warmth from this perfect distance, marveling in the fact that the source of its beauty is explosive and the warmth of its rays are from a massive intensity of violent energy spewing out into the universe. I like noticing the layers of difference in things, I like learning how something is multi-faceted and not just one thing.  Perhaps one thing to me at one point in time, but different at other times.

And, the more I pay attention, the more I see how nothing, truly nothing, is actually one thing or black and white.  From the life in the sun to the life in ourselves to the life around us, everything is constantly evolving along a spectrum of experience and understanding...I could have lived my whole life not knowing about the duality of the sun's nature being both light and beauty but also intense and destructive.  Many humans in history did not know anything about the surface of the sun.  But, when my perspective changed, I saw more.  Living today, I am given the opportunity to see the sun differently.  Beyond the sun though, I think we are given opportunities every day, in many different ways, to see differently.  To know and understand differently.

As I look out at the sun each morning, I smile, thinking of all I see, all I can know and understand right now.  And all I don't see or haven't yet had the opportunity to know or understand.

Surface of the Sun: Solar Flares and CME's


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