Posts Tagged ‘Winter solstice’

Baby, It’s dark outside

December 22, 2020

Even without the dark, menacing shadow of Covid-19 the days are dark.

At our latitude of 58.7075° N, Winter solstice was yesterday Monday, 21 December 2020, at 11:02. The length of the day is down to just 6h 16 m. But at least the trend is now positive though Covid puts a dampener even on that. By the end of this month we will have all of another 9 minutes to play with. But it’s dark outside. I feel dark inside. It’s dark when I get up. It’s still dark long after breakfast. And its dark again when I doze off after lunch (albeit lunches are a bit late these days). Our outside lights, which are on light sensors, switch on before 3pm.

The sun does not rise in the East but 48 degrees South of East. When it sets, it is closer to the South than to the West (48 degrees South of West). Just a measly 84 degree journey across the sky from sunrise to sunset. The highest point the sun reaches is a miserly and a miserable 8 degrees above the horizon.

Dark days in a dark time

Dark days in a dark year. But it is not the length of the day which is the main cause of the blackness of mood. 

The challenge for 2021 is whether the lengthening days will bring any light.

Turn and turn again and behold we have time

December 22, 2014

The winter solstice has passed. The longest night is almost over and the days will start getting longer again.

Turn and turn again and behold we have time.

We are surrounded and dominated by cycles. Without periodicity and cycles we would have no concept of time.

Daily cycles, monthly cycles, annual cycles, solar cycles every 11 years, the earth’s precession cycle with a period of 26,000 years, the earth’s axial tilt cycle of about 41,000 years and the Milankovitch cycles of about 100,000 years, are just some of the cycles that surround us.

Whether everything derives from the vibrations within the most fundamental particles and then are manifested by the periodic motion of bodies in our cosmos or whether the motion in the cosmos is the origin of everything else, periodicity and cyclic behaviour is ingrained within us and our world.



The sun at solstice 12.12 CET on 21.12.2012

December 22, 2012

The shortest day of the year has come and gone and the countdown to summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) has begun. From a day length of 6 hours 15 minutes yesterday the next 183 days will see the length of the day – at this latitude – increasing by an average of over 3 minutes every day reaching a day length of almost 17 hours at the summer solstice.

From Discovery News:

At 11:12 UT (6:12 a.m. EST), the world didn’t end (as far as I can tell), but it was a significant time none-the-less. That was the exact minute of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (or the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) — when the daylight hours are shortest and the sun reaches its most southern position in the sky at noon.


The sun at solstice 12:12 CET on 21.12.2012: image NASA

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured the time of solstice from orbit. Although the SDO is always imaging the sun through a multitude of filters, this is a great excuse to showcase the fantastic beauty of our nearest star, while putting all the doomsday nonsense behind us.

The sun didn’t unleash a killer solar flare or devastating coronal mass ejection, but it is undergoing a fascinating period in its solar cycle.

As can be seen from the SDO image above, the solar magnetic field is twisted and warped, channeling million-degree plasma high into the sun’s atmosphere in the form of beautiful coronal loops. This is all because the sun is fast approaching “solar maximum” — an exciting time when the sun’s magnetic field is most stressed.

Sol Invictus: Greetings on Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

December 25, 2011

It is the 25th of December of the year 2011 of the Gregorian Calendar and it is the anniversary of the day of the birth of the Invincible Sun (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti).

More correctly, of course it is the presumed date of the birth of the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. This revolution would have existed even when the Earth was just an amorphous conglomeration of gas and particles orbiting the Sun and still waiting to coalesce as the Earth. Since the seasonal celebrations could never be suppressed, it is the date which was hijacked as the day of the birth of Christ (first recorded in 354AD), some 1,657 years ago. But Natalis Solis Invicti goes back much longer than that. And to the best of our knowledge that was about 4,540,000,000 (±1%) years ago.

And while the celebrations around the world at this dark time of the year remain of vital importance in the human calendar, its relevance as the birthday of Christ has become largely meaningless. It is the celebration of renewal, of the beginning of a new year, of the coming lengthening of the days after the winter solstice which pre-dates Christian tradition and will continue long after its inevitable extinction. It is the certainty of belief that the earth will continue to revolve around the Sun and all that follows from that which lifts the human spirit.

Here the sun rises today at 08:48 and sets at 15:05 – a day-length of just over 6 hours. But the days are getting longer and already by next Saturday the day at this latitude will be 6 minutes longer. Over the next 200 days the length of each day will increase by an average of more than 3 minutes each day and by high summer the length of the day will be around 17 hours. And it is the affirmation of this renewal, this anticipation of what is to come and the reconfirmation of “certain” belief in Sol Invictus which lifts my spirit.

And so my greetings to all on this day to celebrate the day of the birth of the Invincible Sun.

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