Black Spots on the Sun

The Sun
Posted on Jun 19, 2012 04:16:23 PM

May 16

Don Pettit practicing for the Venus transit in June of 2012. Credit: Don Pettit

Gardener is practicing taking images of the Sun. He is preparing for the Transit of Venus on June 5th. He has a special filter covering the front of a long telephoto lens so his eyes are protected. This is strange – we stare directly at the Sun without any filters. I saw some of the images. It looks like the Sun has the same brown patches that Sunflower does. I wonder if the Sun could use a treatment with BZK wipes.

May 18
We are starting to have shortages in some of our supplies. This is not unexpected; when you live on the frontier and are extracted from your normal terrestrial soil, it is expected that some items will be in short supply. But you cannot run to the store to buy things. We try to conserve and we try to notify the Big Gardener on Earth when supplies get low, but in spite of this, sometimes shortages happen. Currently we have a shortage of trash bags, disinfectant wipes, and shampoo. We have no more bags in which to put our compost. For us plants, we thrive on compost so this does not pose a problem for us, but for our animal crewmates, this is a big deal. In situations like this, you improvise. We have many spare suitcase-sized bags that protect the scientific equipment during shipment. We are now using those for storing our trash. Gardener said that when he uses the toilet, he can use one disinfectant wipe five times, thus, extending our supply until the next shipment. He keeps his hair pruned short so shampoo in not a factor. Such minor inconveniences are normal here. Gardener says shortages in these supplies are not critical (unless it is coffee.)

May 20
We saw a rare event that strikes fear in the stems of all plants. Today the sun went dark, at least for some selected locations on Earth. For us plants on orbit, it was not so scary since we remained sunlit. However, we did see this dark shadow cast on Earth and if you were a plant within that dark spot, a visceral reaction of fear would move through your vascular bundles.

Black Spot
Posted on Jun 22, 2012 04:30:00 PM

June 6
Last night we observed a little black spot on the Sun. We stayed up all night to record this with our cameras. Of course, the Sun was visible so it was not really night, but for our internal clocks, we should have been dormant. Last night was also unusual because our orbit now follows the day-night shadow cast on Earth by the Sun. From our orbit we are continuously sunlit and have perpetual day. On one side of our spaceship it is night; on the other it is day. This is good for us plants. Gardener and his crewmates observed the little black spot move across the Sun through a special filter. Sunflower, Broccoli, and I can look directly at the sun with no filter. We all were smiling.

A black spot on the Sun. Credit: Don Pettit

June 7

We have noticed that there are no bees on our spacecraft to visit Sunflower’s blossom. I wonder how they would fly in weightlessness. Gardener is so strange; he is brushing Sunflower’s blossom with his toothbrush. Does he think Sunflower has teeth?

The shadow of an eclipse on the Earth as viewed from the International Space Station. Credit: Don Pettit
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