Weather and the Ocean of Air

By William Holmes Wenstrom | Go to book overview

Chapter XVI
HELIOS RAMPANT -- SOLAR FLARES AND EARTHLY STORMS

Sun Spots and Hot Spots -- World Weather -- Long May It Blaze

DESPITE our claim as its very children, the Sun must acknowledge even closer kinship with the widespread galaxy of suns that we call the stars. Out in this far-flung galaxy, and beyond its limits in other galaxies more remote, strange things happen. Some of those distant suns, far bigger than ours, pulsate regularly every few days like the slow beating of immense fiery hearts in the depths of space. Other suns, which have been shining steadily in mediocre fashion for thousands of years, suddenly flame out in prodigious brilliance. On the fifth of June in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, for example, Nova Aquilae appeared to men as an ordinary telescopic star, too faint to be seen with the naked eye. On June seventh it became apparent that the furnace fires of Nova Aquilae were running wild. Hourly the star was getting brighter. At the peak of the explosion it was almost the brightest fixed star in the sky, rivaling even Sirius, and its radiation had increased about fifty thousand times.

If our sun suddenly decided to become a nova, what disastrous earthly effects would ensue! Radio messages telling of fierce and then scorching heat on the daylight side of the earth. Actual fire in the tropics; arctic ice melting in cascades. Then charred silence. Sunrise a wall of flame, searing every combustible thing to blackened ashes.

The third chapter dealt with our Sun as a constant star -- an unchanging source of light and heat. This chapter deals with solar changes. Fortunately for us the sun does not pulsate in

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