Monday, September 22, 2014

A Little Night Music

The equinox is tonight at 10:29 EDT.  Autumn arrives for folks in the Northern Hemisphere, but for my friend Mike in Adelaide, it’s the first day of spring.

Nevertheless, a lot of people are remembering the last rose of summer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere arrives today.

The earth centered on Michigan at 6:52 a.m. EDT, June 21, 2014 the moment of the summer solstice. Created using Celestia.

The earth centered on Michigan at 6:52 a.m. EDT, June 21, 2014 the moment of the summer solstice. Created using Celestia.

Photo by Bob Moler of Interlochen, Michigan.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Moment of Equinox

From Bob Moler’s Ephemeris:

The sun at the vernal equinox point in the sky. The horizontal line the sun is crossing is the celestial equator. The red line is the sun’s path, the ecliptic. The sun is heading to the upper left. Created using Stellarium.

The sun at the vernal equinox point in the sky. The horizontal line the sun is crossing is the celestial equator. The red line is the sun’s path, the ecliptic. The sun is heading to the upper left. Created using Stellarium.

At Last

Spring arrives today at 12:57 p.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere.

Spring 03-20-08

Even from here in sunny and warm Florida I know it’s been a brutal winter, so if it’s still snowing in your area, have some hope that warmth and growth and renewal is coming.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

The sun has reached its southernmost point and will now begin its journey back north.

December Solstice 12-21-13

It’s the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, summer in the Southern.

Here in South Florida, the length of daylight varies by only about two hours between summer and winter, but for those of you up north, the long dark time is beginning to wane, even if the weather says it’s the bleak midwinter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seasons Change…

Traditionally — and when I say that I mean “back when I was a kid” — the Tuesday after Labor Day was the first day of school.  Now it’s the first day back after the first holiday of the school year, which started two weeks ago.

Based on what the folks on TV would have you believe, though, it’s the first real working day after the summer vacation that began the Friday before Memorial Day and it’s been all beaches and roadtrips and hot dogs and sunscreen ever since.  Now they’re all gearing up for cold weather and winter, and I’ll bet that when I get home tonight there will be a Christmas catalog from Harry & David in the mail.

Here in South Florida, the only difference between before Labor Day and after is that we note with trepidation the approach of peak you-know-what season next week.  Fortunately we’ve made it through the summer without any cyclonic disturbances coming ashore, and it’s been eight years since we’ve had a good — meaning bad — hit.  But there are still three months left in the season, so even when autumn arrives in three weeks and the season switches over from wet to dry in the middle of October, we’re still checking out the weather sites and wondering if Invest 98L is going to get a name and a place.

So for those of you in places where the seasons change radically, where the frost is already making an early appearance, where the aspens are already turning and the nights are getting longer, enjoy the inexorable change.  For me, I’m glad to see the late hibiscus bloom.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Little Night Music

UPDATED

Summer Solstice 06-21-05

The summer solstice occurred today in the Northern Hemisphere, which means it’s officially summer.

It also means that the days will be getting shorter.

Update:  Oops.  Julie informs me I’m a day early on celebrating the solstice.  Nothing like rushing the season, eh?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Daylight Savings Time

For those of you in the U.S. that observe Daylight Savings Time, tonight is the night to move the clocks ahead.

Apparently Florida came one vote short of going on DST permanently last year.

Cuckoo ClockThe Sunshine State could have extended daylight saving time if one state senator gets his way.

Florida state Sen. Darren Soto, a Democrat, introduced the “Sunshine Protection Act” earlier this year that would make daylight saving time permanent year round. Why? Soto, an attorney, said that he was just tired of leaving his law office in the dark.

“It’s been bothering me for years,” Soto told POLITICO. “It’s something I’d think about leaving the office in the winter when it’s dark out.”The more he thought about it, the more he said it made sense.

“From time to time, we have to look at rules and laws in our society and re-examine them to see if they still serve the purpose that we need,” said Soto, whose district is near Orlando.

He added: “We are the sunshine state and a big tourism state — it would allow constituents to have an extra hour to enjoy the beach, enjoy the amusement parks, maybe go out to the eat. So in that sense, it’s an economic issue.”

Actually here in South Florida, the difference between winter and summer sunshine isn’t all that much — about an hour and a half this far south.  But then if we were on DST all the time, we’d be on Atlantic Standard Time, the same as Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands.  That wouldn’t make a lot of sense as far as the rest of the country is concerned.  Prime time on TV would start at 9 p.m., which means that the networks would either lose a lot of viewers here in Florida, or they’d have to switch us to the Mountain Time zone and prime time would start at 7.

It’s also a matter of geography.  A lot of  people think that Florida is way east, but if you look at the map, Miami is on the same longitude as Pittsburgh.  Most of the state lines up with the Midwest, and there’s a section of Florida up in the panhandle that is in the Central Time zone, so they’d move to the Eastern zone.

The simple solution is to move the entire country to DST permanently, let Arizona become part of the Pacific Time zone (they have their own issues with the Navajo reservation in the northeast part of the state observing DST while the rest of the state doesn’t) and knock off the switch every year.  But then Canada would have to follow suit, as would Mexico since they do a lot of business south and north of the border.

Sometimes time is not time simple.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I really do like living here in Florida.  I like the fact that it’s the end of December and I have the patio door open to warm up the house after last night’s cool front passed through.  And after spending nearly forty-five years in the grips of cold grey winters, I freely admit that the subtropical climate is much more to my liking.

But every now and then I am reminded — usually by friends who are good photographers — that winter can be beautiful.  Ice and snow and clouds can make their own beauty and be very striking.  And I have my own proof of it.

Stony Point – December 31, 1972

This is a photograph I took nearly forty years ago on New Year’s Eve 1972 on Northport Point, Michigan.  I was walking back to my grandmother’s house from visiting some friends and stopped to look out over the little bay that opens onto Grand Traverse Bay.  It was fairly late in the afternoon, and I had just loaded my Yashica TL-E camera with Tri-X Pan film.  I snapped the picture, then hurried on back to the warmth of the fireplace and a hot toddy.  When I got the prints back from the drugstore (remember sending film off to be developed?), I was impressed with the composition.  I had the print blown up, and it hangs on my bedroom wall.

(Note: the slightly askew angle is a result of scanning.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Winter arrived in the Northern Hemisphere at 6:12 a.m. ET.

That means that today is the day with the shortest amount of daylight north of the Equator.  But it also means that the days will start getting longer, and if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, its the start of summer.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Short Takes

There was a big benefit concert in for Sandy victims.

The New York City Marathon has been cancelled.

Some polls say Obama is ahead in Ohio, tied in Florida.

October jobs numbers look pretty good.

Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. tomorrow in the U.S. (except where they don’t have it.)

Today is the last day for early voting in Florida.

The Marlins have hired Mike Redmond as their new coach.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Short Takes

Shooting in Afghanistan — An American soldier shot at least 17 civilians after leaving his base.

Syria launches attacks even as the UN is trying to start peace talks.

Japan marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.

A mass grave in Mexico held 167 bodies.

Primaries — Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses; Mitt Romney won the ones in Wyoming.

Time check — If you’re in the U.S., most of the country switched to Daylight Saving Time last night.

Spring training — The Tigers tied the Nationals 5-5 in ten.

Short Takes

Shooting in Afghanistan — An American soldier shot at least 17 civilians after leaving his base.

Syria launches attacks even as the UN is trying to start peace talks.

Japan marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.

A mass grave in Mexico held 167 bodies.

Primaries — Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses; Mitt Romney won the ones in Wyoming.

Time check — If you’re in the U.S., most of the country switched to Daylight Saving Time last night.

Spring training — The Tigers tied the Nationals 5-5 in ten.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

Welcome to winter today in the Northern Hemisphere.

The good news is that from now on the days will be getting longer… at least in terms of daylight. And you folks in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your summer.