Considering just how much a part of our lives the Sun is , it seems strange that it had the slightest clue of what the Sun is and how it shines.
The ancients knew the Sun was the most powerful force in nature. Without it, crops would not grow ,and its disppearance during total eclipses was a cause of great alarm.
So, unsuprisingly, the desert tribes of Africa and the Near East decided the Sun was a god - the Egyptians give him the name Ra.
Later,the sun lost its supernatural status, but remained nysterious.What is it made of ? How does it shine ? Will it ever go out? it science that studies seriously as an astronomical object.
In the 18th century , re searchers realised the Sun was a star - one of millions that are scattered across the night sky , but much , much closer .
Unlike the planets and the Moon , whcih are only bright with reflected light, the Sun shines on its own. But it wasn't until the 20th century at the dawn of the atomic age , that the mystery was solved.
In the 1930s, physicists relised that the sun was a ball of burning hydrogen , turning itno helium in a ' nuclear fusion ' reaction. Thanks to modern telescopes , and a fleet of unmanned spacecraft which have been sent to study 'our' star, we now have the measure of the king of the Solar system.
The Sun rules a sphere of space billions of miles across , comprising nine planets , and plants make energy , in the from of sugar , from pure sunlight, air and water.
One day , however , the Sun will die . When it does , so will life after on Earth . Fortunately,
that will not be for some time. Astronomers calculate that after another five billion years or so , the Sun will have used up its supply of hydrogen fuel , nad will start to burn helium and other waste ' ashes'.
IN the meantime, our lives are as much ruled by the Sun as those of the ancient Egyptians. The Sun drives the winds and amkes rain, powers typhoons and sends cold fronts across the countries.
Now we perform our acts of worship every time we head to the park or to the beach to bathe in its life-giving rays.