Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Physics in Verse: A Musical Ode to the Sun

Here's a third and final Physics in Verse poem for you. It's technically the lyrics of a song, but I love the fun and memorable way it presents science about our Sun. The Sun Song is the only way I can remember trivia like "a million Earths could fit in the Sun" or "it's six thousand degrees at the photosphere".

This song hails from a nerdy music group called The Chromatics, and features on their astronomy-inspired album, AstroCappella - "an astronomy class set to music" according to Sky & Telescope magazine. You can listen to their groovy recording here.

The Sun Song

Music and Lyrics by Karen Smale of The Chromatics
Our star, the Sun is a big ball of gas
And it's 99 percent of our solar system's mass
It's an average star in our Milky Way
Warming the Earth every day

What powers our Sun and makes it so bright?
Come on and tell me, what makes all that light?
Hans Bethe long ago reached the conclusion
It changes Hydrogen to Helium by nuclear fusion

When fusion takes place light is created
And it makes its way out (although rather belated)
Through the Photosphere that's the part that we see
The light comes out and shines on you and me

About a million Earths could fit in the Sun
But if you were there you wouldn't have much fun
It's six thousand degrees at the photosphere
And much hotter inside the solar atmosphere

There are a few places where it's not so hot
Like at the center of a big sunspot
But heat is relative it's still pretty warm
Sitting on a sunspot would do you great harm

Galileo discovered sunspots
What are those things, those funny dots?
They're cooler parts, scientists feel
Caused by a stronger magnetic field

Those spots move around the face of the Sun
Proving to all... solar rotation!
A strange kind of movement, to do a full roll
25 days in the middle, 36 at the poles

What about flares? I've heard of them here
They're like giant explosions in the Chromosphere
The magnetic fields above those sunspots
Reconnecting again after being in knots

Above the Chromosphere the Corona is placed
It's millions of degrees and reaches way into space
It's very thin, but read my lips
That's the part that you see in a solar eclipse

That's the end of our song about Mr. Sun
We hope that you find that learning is fun
But never look at the Sun, you could go blind
Just keep on enjoying that warm sunshine!

Further reading:

To learn more about the inner workings of the Sun, check out The Chromatics' background science page.

To see what the Sun is doing right now, visit NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory website, The Sun Now. The image at the top of this post shows the Sun on June 11th, 2015, with the different colors representing different parts of the solar corona. Solar wind from the large dark "hole" in the center of the Sun is expected to reach Earth this week.

By Tamela Maciel, also known as "pendulum"

Top image credit: The Sun in June 2015. A composite image showing different parts of the corona. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

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