The sun's structure and characteristics determine the nature of the energy it radiates into space. The first major topic in this chapter concerns the characteristics of this energy outside the earth's atmosphere, its intensity, and its spectral distribution. We will be concerned primarily with radiation in a wavelength range of 0.25 to 3.0 μm, the portion of the electromagnetic radiation that includes most of the energy radiated by the sun.
The second major topic in this chapter is solar geometry, that is, the position of the sun in the sky, the direction in which beam radiation is incident on surfaces of various orientations, and shading. The third topic is extraterrestrial radiation on a horizontal surface, which represents the theoretical upper limit of solar radiation available at the earth's surface.
An understanding of the nature of extraterrestrial radiation, the effects of orientation of a receiving surface, and the theoretically possible radiation at the earth's surface is important in understanding and using solar radiation data, the subject of Chapter 2.
1.1 The Sun
The sun is a sphere of intensely hot gaseous matter with a diameter of and is, on the average, from the earth. As seen from the earth, the sun rotates on its axis about once every ...