Wednesday, June 21, 2006


It is a very apt first day of summer here in Columbia. The temp topped out at 97 degrees, the sun is high in the sky, late afternoon brings rumbles of thunder, but as of yet, they are only heard from a distance.
This morning at 8:26am, the sun passed over the Tropic of Cancer. This event creates the longest day of the year here, and heralds the arrival of summer. Henceforth, until the sun passes over the Tropic of Capricorn at 7:22pm on December 21, the days will shorten and the nights lengthen and Winter will blanket us.
The word solstice comes from the Latin for sun stopped, because for the few days surrounding the event, the sun doesn’t appear to move in the sky. Much like the conditions that allow for the apparent standstill of the Harvest Moon, the sun seems to rise to the same point each day and given its extremely long trail across the sky, just hangs there and bakes us. It will not move any further north, and tomorrow it will be in the same spot as it was yesterday.
As all of you know, we travel around the sun not in a circle, but an elliptical path. Our average distance from the sun is 93 million miles, but we vary by about 4 million miles. It is not hot outside because we are closest right now. That wouldn’t explain winter in Australia would it? It is hot because we are tilted toward the sun. We are getting direct rays. We will be at our farthest point from the sun sometime at the beginning of next month.
So anyway, I just think it is interesting that no matter the distance, the direction we are tilted determines our warmth.

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