Sundowner: a word synonymous with a refreshing mix of gin and tonic as one watches the sun set over the mountains. Something everyone who has been to Sabi Sabi, or yet to, can look forward to. I must say we are blessed to have some of the most breathtaking sunsets but as I watch the sun go down over the horizon, I cannot help but ponder about this big ball of flames that is always a constant in our everyday lives.
Our solar system is estimated to have been formed about 4.6 billion years ago. Our sun was likely formed from a series of events triggered by a shockwave from an exploding star also known as a supernova somewhere in a distant galaxy. Some of the debris from the explosion fused into what we have come to know as planets, our planet falls under what is the inner planets. Inner planets are closer to the sun and consist of solid rock with a metallic core. Mercury, Venus and Mars are also considered inner planets, but our planet is the only one known to have life form and this is so due to the ideal distance we are positioned away from the sun.
Earth revolves around the sun at about 150 million km, a distance that is ideal as we are not too hot nor are we too cold. Moreover, compared to other planets our orbit is elliptical, so we never stray too far from these favourable conditions. Because Earth is slightly tilted on its axis; 23.3 degrees to be exact and the stabilising effect of the moon on our spin, we are fortunate enough to have progressive seasons.
The moon also affects the ocean tides that in turn aid in the nutrient cycle of our oceans and natural purification as they filter through our continental shores. Lunar cycles also seem to influence the synchronising reproductive cycles of some creatures for example impalas. Without the sun, day and night would not exist and photosynthesis would be impossible – meaning no plants, no food, no animals – and most importantly, no air to breathe!
So, the next time you look into the sky, be it day or night; take a few seconds to appreciate these two celestial bodies because without them, life would not be as we have come to love and know.