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Fundamentals of Solar Radiation

The Sun remains fixed in the center of the circle of heavenly bodies, without changing its place; and the Earth, turning upon itself, moves round the Sun.

—Galileo Galilei, 1615

1.1    THE SUN AS A STAR

Earth orbits a star, the sun, which is the ultimate source of all energy driving the process of animate and inanimate life cycles on the planet. The sun’s nuclear furnace continually fills the volume of surrounding space with energetic elementary particles and photons of electromagnetic radiation. The sun’s electromagnetic spectrum spans an enormous range of wavelengths of frequencies of radiation, from gamma and x-rays, to ultraviolet (UV), visible, infrared (IR), and radio waves. For the purposes of this ...

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