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The sun is a star. It is not by any means the biggest of the stars. It looks much bigger than any star because it is closer to us. It is only about 93,000,000 miles away! All the other stars are much, much farther away than that.

Of course, if we were still closer to the sun, it would look even bigger. If we were only a million miles away, let us say, it would fill the whole sky.

The sun is not very big as stars go, but it is enormous compared to the earth. If it were hollow, there would be room for more than a million earths inside. This enormous ball weighs more than 300,000 times as much as the earth.

There is a great deal of talk about space travel, but no one would want to take a trip to the sun even if he could. It is so hot that no one could stand to come near it. At the centre the temperature is supposed to be more than 35 million degrees!

Even if the sun were not hot, no one would dare visit it. The gravity on the surface is so great that a person would be crushed by his own weight.

The sun is far too hot to be solid. It is a huge ball of gases that are so hot that they give off light. Shooting up from the sun there are great rose-coloured streamers of glowing gas. They are called solar prominences. Some of them shoot up more than 100,000 miles from the sun's surface.

The sun has a halo around it. It is called the corona1. The sun's corona shows only when there is an eclipse of the sun2. Scientists think that it is a cloud of very, very small particles lighted up by the main body of the sun.

We all owe our lives to the sun. If it did not send light and warmth to the earth, nothing could live here. No wonder many people in ancient times worshipped it!

All our energy for useful work comes from the sun. The energy of falling water turns many of our machines. The water was first raised to the clouds as vapour by the sun's heat and then dropped as rain. Green plants use the energy that comes to them in sunlight to make food. Almost all other living things depend on green plants for food. Coal, oil, and natural gas were formed from the remains of plants and animals of long ago. In these fuels the energy of sunlight has been stored for millions of years. Scientists are now experimenting with using the sun's energy directly in solar furnaces.

Where does the sun's energy come from? Deep in its centre hydrogen atoms are constantly joining to form heavier elements. Energy is constantly being produced in the process.

The spinning of the earth makes the sun rise and set, and seem to move westward in the sky. The people of long ago thought that the earth stood still and that the sun moved around it. Many of them believed that each day the sun god drove the golden chariot of the sun across the sky.


1) Is the sun the biggest of the stars?

2) Is it possible to take a trip to the sun?

3) When does the sun's corona show?

4) Where does the sun's energy come from?

5) What did the people of long ago think about the sun?


1. the corona - корона

2. an eclipse of the sun - затмение солнца


A great many different games are played with a ball. Tennis is one of them. A tennis ball is an air-filled rubber ball covered with flannel. It is made so that it bounces very well. The ball is hit with a racket back and forth across a net. A-tennis racket is a frame with strands1 of catgut2, silk, or nylon stretched across it. The frame is usually made of ash.

The game of tennis is very much like ping-pong. Ping-pong, in fact, is called table tennis.

To anyone who does not know the game, the score at times sounds strange. "Love" is used for "zero". If the score in a game is "15 - love", one side has 15 points and the other side nothing. A game tied at 40-40 is a "deuce" game3.

Tennis may be played by either two people or four. Games in which two people play are called "singles". "Doubles" are games with four players. Both men and women play tennis. If each team in a match is made up of a man and a woman, the match is called "mixed doubles". "Tennis" is short for "lawn tennis". At first the game was played on grass-covered courts. But now many courts are bare. Some are clay-covered, some are concrete, and some are even covered with cinders.

Tennis was invented by an English major in 1873. He called it by the peculiar name, but many liked the game. Now tennis is played all over the world.

Although outdoor tennis is a little more than 100 years old, its ancestor - court tennis - goes back to the Middle Ages. Kings and noblemen played court tennis indoors in special rooms built for it. Every year there are world and European championship tennis matches. The most famous tennis matches are held at Wimbledon (England). The best-known trophy is the Davis Cup4. The Davis Cup matches are also international.

In Russia tennis began to develop in the end of the 19th century. In 1903, Russian sportsmen took part in international competitions for the first time. The first championship of the Soviet Union was held in 1924. And since 1958 our sportsmen have been taking part in all international competitions.

There are officials5 at tennis tournaments. But the players themselves help with the rulings. If a player makes a mistake which the official fails to see, the player reports it. No player accepts a point unless he is sure he is entitled to it. For this reason tennis is often called a "gentleman's game".


1) Is tennis played with a ball or without it?

2) How many people may tennis be played by?

3) Who invented tennis?

4) When was the first championship of the Soviet Union held?

5) Why is tennis often called a "gentleman's game"?


1. a strand - нить

2. a catgut - струна

3. A game tied at 40-40 is a "deuce" game. - Если в игре соотношение очков 40-40, счет становится "ровно".

4. the Davis Cup - Кубок Дэвиса

5. officials - судейская коллегия

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