All too often we take our sun for granted. The sun provides plenty of sunlight and warmth, and the plants use the sunlight for photosynthesis, which then feeds the hungry mouths of herbivores and omnivores alike. The animals are then devoured by predators, the predators die and return back to nature. It all comes from the sun, and even ancient philosophers recognized this fact, and they adorned the sun with tales and names and myths and throned it as god.
Here today, I highlight to you some of the legends surrounding our sun; tales from China, India, Egypt, Greece, Africa and so on.
Chinese people believed that there existed ten suns that appeared in turn in the sky during the Chinese ten-day week. Each day the ten suns would travel with their mother, the goddess Xi He, to the Valley of the Light in the East. There, Xi He would wash her children in the lake and put them in the branches of an enormous mulberry tree called fu-sang. From the tree, only one sun would move off into the sky for a journey of one day, to reach the mount Yen-Tzu in the Far West.
Tired of this routine, the ten suns decided to appear all together. The combined heat made the life on the Earth unbearable. To prevent the destruction of the Earth, the emperor Yao asked Di Jun, the father of the ten suns, to persuade his children to appear one at a time.
They would not listen to him, so Di Jun sent the archer, Yi, armed with a magic bow and ten arrows to frighten the disobedient suns. However, Yi shot nine suns, only the Sun that we see today remained in the sky. Di Jun was so angry for the death of nine of his children that he condemned Yi to live as an ordinary mortal in the earth.
Re was known as the sun-god and the creator in ancient Egypt. He took on many forms, each depending on where he was. Usually Re was portrayed with a hawk head, wearing a fiery disk like the Sun on his head. In the Underworld, the god took the form of a ram-head.
Re was the creator of our world. In the beginning of time, an egg rose from the water. Once out of his shell, Re had two children who became the atmosphere and clouds. They in turn had more children,Geb and Nut, who became the Earth and the stars. They in turn had two sons, Seth and Osiris, the father of Horus.
Re cried one day, and humans were made from his tears. He also created the four seasons for the Nile, a very important river in Egypt. Re combines with Horus to form Re-Harakhte, god of the Sun and the heavens.
For the Aztecs, who lived in central Mexico, Tonatiuh was a Sun god. Aztecs believed that four suns had been created in four previous ages, and all of them had died at the end of each cosmic era. Tonatiuh was the fifth sun and the present era is still his. Tonatiuh was in charge of the Aztec Heaven called Tollan. Only dead warriors and women who died in childbirth could be received in Tollan.
Tonatiuh was responsible for supporting the universe. To prevent the end of the world, Aztecs believed it was essential to maintain the strength of the Sun god by offering him human sacrifices, which is what we perceive as cannibalism today.
Liza was the Sun god to the Fon people of West Africa. His sister was the Moon god Mawu. The two were twins, but were also lovers. Together, they created the Universe with the help of the cosmic serpent, Da.
It is said that Liza used his son, Gu to shape the world. Gu was the divine tool in the shape of an iron sword. He taught the people many different crafts, including ironworking.
Liza was also the god of heat, work and strength. Mawu was the goddess of night and motherhood.
In Hindu mythology, Surya represents the Sun god. The Malay word, "SURIA" is originated from this word =). Surya is depicted as a red man with three eyes and four arms, riding in a chariot drawn by seven mares. Surya holds water lilies with two of his hands. With his third hand he encourages his worshipers whom he blesses with his fourth hand. In India, Surya is believed to be a benevolent deity capable of healing sick people. Even today, people place the symbol of the Sun over shops because they think it would bring good fortune.
When Surya married Sanjna, his wife could not bear the intense light and heat. Therefore, she fled into a forest where she transformed herself into a mare to prevent Surya from recognizing her. But Surya soon discovered Sanjna's refuge. He went to the same forest disguised as a horse. Sanjna gave birth to several children, and eventually reunited with her husband.
However, the heat and the light of Surya were so intolerable that Sanjna was always exhausted doing her domestic duties. Finally, Sanjna's father decided to help her and trimmed Surya's body reducing his brightness by an eighth. Thus, Sanjna could more easily live close to her husband.
Inti was considered the Sun god and the ancestor of the Incas. Inca people were living in South America in the ancient Peru. In the remains of the city of Machu Picchu, it is possible to see a shadow clock which describes the course of the Sun personified by Inti.
Inti and his wife Pachamama, the Earth goddess, were regarded as benevolent deities. According to an ancient Inca myth, Inti taught his son Manco Capac and his daughter Mama Ocollo the arts of civilization and sent them to the Earth to instruct mankind about what they had learned.
Inti ordered his children to build the Inca capital where a divine golden wedge, they carried with them, would fall to the ground. Incas believed this happened in the city of Cuzco, which has been founded by the Ayar.
Inti is celebrated even today in Peru during the Festival of Inti Raimi in Cuzco.
In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leto (Letona). He was the twin brother of the goddess Artemis. He was the god of the Sun, logic, and reason, and was also a fine musician and healer.
Leto travelled all over Greece to find a place to give birth to Apollo. She finally came upon an island named Delos. The island agreed to allow the birth of Apollo if he in turn founded a temple on the island. Leto agreed, and when Apollo grew up, he changed Delos into a beautiful island.
Apollo was known as the god who could foretell the future. His most famous sacred place was at Delphi, site of the Oracle of Delphi.
The Romans also believed in Apollo as the god of light, music, and healing.
Shamash was a Sun god according to the Sumerian mythology. Sumerians were living more than three thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. The region of Mesopotamia corresponds to the valleys of Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Since he could see everything on Earth, he represented also the god of justice. That is why Shamash was depicted as a ruler seated on a throne. Shamash and his wife, Aya, had two important children. Kittu represented justice, and Misharu was law.
Every morning, the gates in the East open up, and Shamash appears. He travels across the sky, and enters the gate in the West. He travels through the Underworld at night in order to begin in the East the next day.
In Babylon, located in the south of Mesopotamia, the symbol of Shamash was the solar disk, with a four-pointed star inside it.
Malina is the Sun goddess of the Inuit people who live in Greenland. The word "Inuit" means "people."
Malina and her brother, the Moon god Anningan, lived together. They got into a terrible fight and Malina spread dirty, black grease all over her brother's face. In fear, she ran as far as she could into the sky and became the Sun. Anningan chased after her and became the Moon.
Anningan often forgets to eat, so he gets thinner as the days go by. Every month, the Moon disappears for three days while Anningan eats. He then returns to chase his sister once again.
This eternal chase makes the Sun alternate in the sky with the Moon.
Amaterasu was the Sun goddess of the oldest Japanese religion called Shinto. When her brother Susanowo treated her badly, she hid in the cave of heaven and closed the entrance with an enormous stone. This made the world dark, and evil spirits came out of their hiding places.
In despair, a conference of the gods decided to trick Amaterasu into coming out by having a party near the cave. They put a big mirror in front of the cave and beautiful jewels on a tree. Uzume, the goddess of laughter, began a dance accompanied by loud music.
Hearing the music and laughter, Amaterasu was so curious that she took a look outside to find out what was going on. She was so fascinated by her own brilliant reflection in the mirror that she came out of the cave. Finally, the light covered and colored the world.
Science of the Sun
The sun is a ball of fire fueled by constant nuclear fission in its core, where atoms of hydrogen combine to form helium and releases neutrino and energy and something else(I forgot =P). The energy, though only 0.3 percent of the mass-energy, is quite large given the size of our sun(109 times larger than earth), and its mass (mass of sun = 99.9% of the total mass in our solar system =.= it's a big fat boy~)
The sun has three main layers: core; radiation zone; convection zone. The sun also has its own atmosphere: photosphere, chromosphere, corona. Outside the corona is where the solar wind occurs. The hottest part of the sun's atmosphere is the corona, ironically, being the furthest from the surface of the sun, reaching 2 million Kelvin. The hottest part of the Sun's internal part is of course the core.
Our sun is a relatively young star, or should I say, midway through its life. It is now being estimated at 4.6 billion years old, which means it has another 4 billion years at least, so we should not be worried about extermination by sun =P
One thing that should be highlighted here is the solar wind, and sunspot. This is the concept utilized by the movie 2012 to prophesize the armageddon. It gained worldwide attention and since people had been crazy about death of earth, death of civilization, and even the story of the Mayan but they never set upon to know more about the sun =.= If I were the sun I would be extremely sad.. being the main protagonist of the movie but no one has given attention to me =.=
Sunspots are a constant menace for the sun. It makes the sun unhappy (no one loves having excessive pimples or freckles) and thus once in a while during solar maximum, the temperature of our earth soars to record high. Please refer to the "butterfly diagram" for more info, cuz this entry is becoming so long I have to stop now =P
what an unprofessional way to end an article...