do you realise?

The Flaming Lips have a song called “Do You Realize?”, and the second half of the chorus goes:
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

The sun has always fascinated me. I’ve seen my share of sunrises. Posted them on the internet too, so I’m sure this is no surprise. And there’s all sorts of facts that I’m sure we learnt in Year Three or something but then never rehashed and have since fallen out of brain, which seems to store strictly useless information such as my old job’s ABN (99 155 674 990 – when will I ever need to use this again?). But the sun can lose its … awe-inspiring capabilities.

It’s made the mistake of rising every day. It’s reliable, consistent. It’s risen every day for a fair couple of years. Risen, set, risen, set. But the other day the Flaming Lips’ song popped into my head: the sun don’t go down; it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round. And it made me stop and think for a moment, we use those terms, rise and set, as it’s they’re the best description, but it’s not like that at all is. Then the very next day I was ‘lucky’ enough to see the sunrise, and a thought occurred to me.

When you stop thinking of the sun as the sun, but as what it is but less commonly referred to – a star – it changes your whole perspective. When it’s early in the morning and it’s first started to rise, all big and orange in that illusory way and you can still look right at it, you’re in fact looking at the very surface of the star.

The Earth, spinning at nearly 1600/km as an hour, has rotated to the point where you can now see, about 150 million kms away, the surface of our closest star. The same star who has a diameter 1.4 million kms, in which 1 million earths could fit.

The Sun is travelling at 220km/second around the Milky Way, of which one orbit is approximated to take between 225-250 million years. Around that spinning star is us, spinning at our own 444.4km/second.

And every day we get to stand on the edge and watch that star come into view, and for a few seconds stare at its very surface.

sun facts:

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