The sun pokes out of a layer of fog over Lake Superior at sunrise in Duluth this morning (Aug. 8). Bob King
Sometimes I have to remind myself that the sun is a star. It seems so singular, so incredible. Our planet turns to face it every day, so it’s easy to take for granted. But every so often I look up and take a quick, wincing look at that glaring disk. Feel the intensity of its heat on my skin. And realize how incredibly special it is to be close neighbors with a real star. Just like the ones we see twinkling on clear nights.
Nighttime stars shed no heat you and I can feel, and none are close enough to show a disk except in large instruments using special techniques. But they’re all stars just like the sun, and if we could magically bring them closer, we’d sure as summer get a sunburn. The sun is their representative and for us, a gift and a privilege.
The sun is a luminous ball of hydrogen and helium gas held together by its own gravity. Within its hot, pressurized core hydrogen fuses with other hydrogen atoms in a controlled thermonuclear ...