the sun ball

Photograph by Robert C. Clark

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Solar Meltdown

The sea, a laughing gull, a cloud bank, and the sun. Four elements, artfully composed, create a classic scene brimming with energy. It could also be a blast from the past: the testing of a nuclear bomb over Bikini Atoll. But no, the sun merely rises over the Atlantic. Its churning, boiling photosphere emerges from a sea, which seems to clutch the incandescence, letting go with reluctance.

A sunrise like this is brief. A moment at most. Its witnesses? A shorebird and a photographer. Most people, being captives of the night, prisoners to circadian clocks and a malady called apathy, miss this classic coastal scene.

And what about all that water. At some point it has been morning dew, waterfalls, melting glaciers, bourbon, and rising tides. Who knows what grand events it took part in. Now we see it as a roiling sea, with some of it, no doubt, destined to become trapped in plastic bottles.

We Earthlings take much for granted, not the least of which is water and the air we breathe. And our air? Well, it’s special. Our planetary home orbits within the sun’s solar wind. Simply put, you and I live within the atmosphere of a star.

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