90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Mysteries Of The Sun

Jacki Lyden in for Tom Ashbrook

This hot summer, we’ll look into the heart of the star that brings us all life. The science and mystery of the Sun.

This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare just as sunspot 1105 was turning away from Earth on Sept. 8, 2010 the active region erupted, producing a solar flare and a fantastic prominence. The eruption also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection into space.  (AP)

This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare just as sunspot 1105 was turning away from Earth on Sept. 8, 2010 the active region erupted, producing a solar flare and a fantastic prominence. The eruption also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection into space. (AP)

Oh, yon flaming orb. Every day, Helios’s chariot carries you across the sky.

Well, perhaps not: but the 27 million degree star that rules our every waking hour actually has a beating heart. Well, a pulse.

Anyway,  it also generates a kajillion fascinating facts — did you know you get more Vitamin D from ten minutes in the sun than 200 glasses of milk?

We explore stories of the star, its eclipses, storms, shelf-life and why somewhere over the rainbow, it’s way up high.

This hour On Point: Here Comes the Sun.

-Jacki Lyden

Guests:

Bob Berman, author of The Sun’s Heartbeat: and Other Stories from the Life of the Star that Powers Our Planet. He’s also a columnist for Astronomy magazine and science editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Madhulika Guhathakurta, NASA astrophysicist, and an expert on heliophysics and space weather. She’s lead scientist for NASA’s “Living With a Star” initiative, which focuses on understanding the effects of solar variability on technology and human life.

This hour, we’ll hear:

“Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles
“Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Bill Withers
“Higher Than The Sun” by Primal Scream

The Sun blows out another big flare


Excerpt from The Sun’s Heartbeat: and Other Stories from the Life of the Star that Powers Our Planet:

Introduction:

Then, since 2000, what had previously been a trickle of new Sun discoveries became a flood. And a flotilla of six amazing solar-dedicated spacecraft was almost routinely providing revelations.

How many of our friends know that there’s a “sun inside the sun”? Or that a bizarre, newly found zone beneath the solar surface, the tachocline, is solely responsible for its violence? Or that we just experienced  the oddest solar cycle in over 200  years – which has apparently stopped global warming in its tracks? Or the scary stuff, like an all-star government panel that urgently warned that a particular kind of solar storm could effectively destroy our power grid at any time, with repairs to the tune of one to two trillion dollars?

Is it really mostly the Sun’s changing brightness – and not human activity – that’s altering our temperature? Is my own Old Farmers Almanac correct in predicting, ostensibly using scientific reasoning, that a global cooling is in the cards?

How can we create a valid public policy regarding climate change if the culprit is not ourselves but the nearest star? Or are such arguments mere rationalizations and cop-outs, a fog created by a deliberate or ignorant misreading of today’s cutting-edge solar science? And what about the medical advice to cover our skin when we venture out – has this drained our blood of its vital cancer-fighting vitamin D? And what should we make of the Sun’s eternal hand-to-hand combat with our world’s magnetic field; its complete power over our solar system and satellites; the billions of particles it powers through our brains?

It’s time to find out.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 27, 2015
Flowers and ribbons adorn a tree outside the Weinstein family house in Rockville, Md. last week. Earlier, President Barack Obama ook full responsibility for the counterterror missions and offered his "grief and condolences" to the families of the hostages, Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Maryland, and Giovanni Lo Porto who were inadvertently killed by CIA drone strikes early this year. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

American drone policy and consequences. We’ll look at secret strikes and the evolution of drone war.

Apr 27, 2015
Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner at a charity event in 2013. (Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP)

Bruce Jenner opens up about his gender journey. We’ll look at the big picture of transgender life in America now.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 24, 2015
Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plans Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
Apr 24, 2015
The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

Loretta Lynch gets a vote. Race and anger in Baltimore. Migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Petraeus, sentenced. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your Favorite Musical Memories Of Rain
Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015

When we say ‘rain,’ you say ‘…?’ (Here’s what you really said when we said ‘rain.’)

More »
6 Comments
 
Three LIVE Tracks From Flor De Toloache
Friday, Apr 17, 2015

Fantastic live tracks from the amazing women of Flor de Toloache.

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 17, 2015
Friday, Apr 17, 2015

Interactions on Facebook, campaign time begins and a truck full of bees.

More »
2 Comments