This is a fun question because it’s so hard to
imagine that the sun could even heat the earth.
The sun is so far away! How could its heat travel
so far! There are three ways that heat can move
between objects so let’s look at all of them
and figure out which one the sun uses.
The first is called conduction, where
heat moves from one solid object to another.
Have you ever hugged a friend who was really
warm and felt yourself get warmed? Heat is
transferring from your friend to your body by
conduction. The second method is called
convection where heat moves through fluids.
Fluids are liquids and gasses which have the
ability to move more freely than solids do.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘hot air
rises’? This is a perfect example of
convection. You can also see convection in action
by looking at water boil. The hot water will rise
from the bottom of the pot and bubble out the top.
So you may be thinking that none of these could
be the method by which the sun heats the earth
since there are no solids, liquids, or gasses in
The third method, called radiation, is
the way that the sun heats the earth. Radiation is
really complicated but the basic idea is that
heat can move through completely empty space
until it hits something solid. In the case of
the sun, some of the heat that radiates travels
all the way through space until it reaches the
I hope that makes things more clear. Thank you
so much for your question!