The sky is this unwell orange colour, like it’s eaten too many carrots, and so is the ground where the sunlight filters down onto it.
It’s like Melbourne’s been wrapped in orange cellophane, a big, gaudy xmas present, left in the car to overheat.
Everyone is a little unsettled by the colour of the light, and by the smell of the smoke that is everywhere: in the air; in your clothes; in your significant-other’s hair; sharper in rooms left closed for a few days; breathing from car vents.
Safely over in the United States, where the skies are red, white, and blue, NASA looked up and found a sunspot. They used millions of US dollars’ worth of equipment to find this sunspot, but, with the sun gauzed over by the smoke of two hundred thousand burning hectares, we here found it days ago for free.
It’s large enough to swallow the Earth, this sunspot, and to suck the whole lot of us right down to the Sun’s thermonuclear core without a moment of discomfort on its part, or on the part of the Sun. I imagine that we, however, would be fairly uncomfortable with the process (even if not for long).
It’s an electromagnetic tornado, spinning darkly within frenzied clouds of whitehot fusion.
NASA were so worried that when they launched the Space Shuttle Discovery, they launched it at night, so that it had less chance of bumping into the Sun and being sucked down that sunspot without a trace.
They can stand to not lose any more shuttles. Not even if the shuttle ends its days by dropping benevolently (for the Solar munchkins, at least) onto some wicked witch at the centre of the Sun.