So with my mea culpa out of of the way, let's get to the next set of answers!
- Compare the Sun to the stars.
However, there are far, far more small, cool, dim stars than big, hot, bright stars...the vast majority of stars in our universe are small little red dwarf stars. In fact, the distribution is so lopsided that the mass of all the small stars put together is many times larger than the mass of all the big stars put together (though exactly how many times is still debated). So, in that sense, our Sun is actually bigger, hotter, and brighter than most other stars.
- Why does the Sun shine?
However, the resulting helium atom weighs just slightly less than the four hydrogen atoms that went into it. This tiny bit of missing mass is actually converted into pure energy via Einstein's famous equation E=mc^2. This energy, which leaves the nucleus of the atom as an extremely energetic gamma ray photon (a particle of light), bounces around the interior of the Sun countless times, getting absorbed and re-emitted by surrounding atoms and losing just a little energy to them each time. By the time it reaches the surface of the Sun - a process which takes, on average, about 1 million years - the photon has lost enough energy to emerge, on average, as yellow light...and that's why the Sun looks yellow.
This is also what makes movies like "The Core" utter nonsense. If the core of the Sun suddenly stopped undergoing fusion, we wouldn't really notice the effects until a million years later, once all the photons had managed to escape.
- What happens to the Sun at night?
Still, I've heard some pretty wacky wrong answers for this, like the idea that space itself is lit up during the day, and dark at night. Meanwhile, Socrates thought that every night the Sun passed through a giant hole in the middle of the Earth. Those wacky ancient Greeks...
- What is the sun made of?
Note that this also goes for the planets and everything on them...So, all that hydrogen locked up in the water in your body came from the big bang, while all the carbon, oxygen, iron, etc., in your body originally came from ancient exploded stars.
If you're a romantic, you can say, "we are all stardust." Meanwhile, if you're a pessimist, you can say, "we are all nuclear waste products."
- What causes a solar eclipse?
Now, it doesn't happen every New Moon because the Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted 5 degrees to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Only when the orbits line up during New Moon (about once every 6 months), does the Moon block out the Sun's light...otherwise it passes a couple degrees below or above the Sun from our perspective.
Just by chance, both the Moon and the Sun span about half a degree on the sky, so they have to be lined up just right for a total solar eclipse to occur, and it's only visible at just the right location on Earth. This wasn't always the case - in Earth's past, the Moon used to be quite a bit closer to us, meaning it appeared quite a bit larger in our sky.
Currently, the Moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year. This is all because of the tides...the difference in the Moon's gravity felt on the Earth raises two bulges on the Earth which rotate roughly once per day (anyone who's lived near the ocean knows the cycle of low-tide and high-tide). These act as a very subtle brake on Earth's rotation, just like slightly depressing the brakes in your car.
This causes the Earth's rotation to slow down ever so slightly - this is why every now and then you'll hear about the powers-that-be inserting a leap second to keep the clocks accurate. So, the days on Earth are getting slightly longer...but all this rotational energy the Earth is losing has to go somewhere. The moon ends up absorbing it, causing it's orbit to slightly spin-up, which makes it's orbit slightly wider every year.
So, in the distant past, total eclipses were much more common. Likewise, in the distant future total eclipses will no longer occur - the Moon's apparent size will just be too small to block out the entire Sun. It's a rather happy circumstance we were all born at a time in Earth's history when the two brightest celestial objects are the same size on the sky.