With the Summer Solstice upon us, we thought we would shed some light on the largest object in our solar system by providing you with some interesting Sun based facts to warm your grey matter. The Sun rises and sets everyday with the predictability of a botched Brexit, and it is therefore easy to take for granted how amazing our Sun is.
We are used to modelling the Sun and its path across the sky with all the glint and glare assessments we complete. We therefore thought we would be in a good position to identify and present some of the most interesting sun-based facts on the longest day of the year.
- The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in the solar system and its mass is ~330,000 times the mass of Earth. If you were to fill a hollow Sun with spherical Earths, ~960,000 would fit inside. However, if you were to squeeze the volume of the Earth into Sun with no space remaining, it would be possible to fit 1,300,000 Earths inside.
- The Sun is, on average, 149,597,870 km from earth (92,955,807 miles). Considering the previous numbers, it therefore takes the Sun’s light approximately 8 minutes and 18 seconds to reach earth, on average;
- During a Summer Solstice the Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Cancer, which is the northern most tropic;
- It is generally accepted that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but the variation between the longest and shortest day of the year is quite significant. For example, at Pager Power’s office in the Sudbury, on June 21st the sun will rise at ~48° and set at ~312° however on the shortest day of the year the Sun will rise at ~129° and set at ~231°. That is quite a dramatic difference and it is illustrated in Figure 1 below:
- Similarly, the height to which the Sun rises above the horizon varies significantly. At Pager Power’s office, in the winter the Sun rises to ~15 degrees above the southern horizon, whereas in the summer the Sun rises to ~62 degrees above the horizontal;
- Whilst sunrise and sunset are technically defined as when the Sun is geometrically above/below the horizon, we are actually able to ‘see’ the Sun before it has risen or after it has set. This is due to refraction of the sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere which bends the light over the horizon. This effect is strongest at the equator and varies depending on where you are on earth. More on this can be found in this interesting article here.
- On the shortest day of the year we get approximately 07 and 45 minutes of daylight whereas on the longest Day of the year we get approximately 16 hours and 45 minutes of daylight;
- Counterintuitively however, the Summer Solstice does not coincide with the earliest and latest sunrise and sunset respectively. The earliest sunrise tends to happen a few days before the Summer Solstice and the latest sunset tends to happen a few days after.
- During the Summer Solstice the Earth isn’t actually closest to the Sun. The Earth is furthest from the Sun around July 5th and the Earth is in fact closer to the Sun during the Winter Solstice. The main reason for the difference in temperature is the Earth’s tilt.