Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Oh Hai, The Returning Light!

The winter solstice “occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, the term is also a turning point to midwinter and the first day of winter.”

That moment occurs tomorrow, December 21st, at UTC 17:11 or 11:11 a.m. Central Time, which is my time zone.

Of course, that is the scientific explanation. We know better!

Twice a year, on the solstice holidays, Basement Cat and Ceiling Cat are locked in mortal combat over the Light. At summer solstice, Basement Cat prevails and the light starts receding … gradually at first and then more quickly until the autumnal equinox, when the light and dark are equal.

Entering the Quiet Time as We Leaf the Light Behind

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the Sun being vertically above a point on the Equator. The latitudes +L and -L north and south of the equator experience nights of equal length and the celestial equator has intersected the ecliptic in the axial precession.

This year’s autumnal equinox, when the light and dark are equal but moving towards dark, arrives at 3:44pm Central Time on Sunday, September 22, or about 4 hours from now.

But seasonal celebrations should not be bound by dates and times and such. In fact, it is a good idea to pre-celebrate Equinox so that you do not miss that last fleeting moment when ceiling cat has equal time. So …

Let the Fall Celebration Begin !!

Celebrating the Critters of Summer

Tonight will mark the Summer Solstice. Astronomically, it looks like this:

The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. The seasonal significance of the Summer Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. That will occur on June 21st at 5:04 UTC (1:04am Eastern, 12:04am Central, 11:04pm June 20th Mountain and 10:04pm June 20th Pacific Time).

Tomorrow the sunrise (near where I live) will be 5:15am and sunset will be 8:29pm … 15 hours and 14 minutes of sunlight. On Winter Solstice, 6 loooong months ago, sunrise was at 7:15am and sunset was at 4:22pm, barely 9 hours of sunlight.

That is all the sciencey stuff. Of course, we know that there is more to it than that.  

The Promise of the Light

Today marks the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Astronomically, it looks like this:

More importantly, it means that the promise of the returning light made at Winter Solstice is being fulfilled.

On December 21, sunrise (near where I live) was 7:15am and sunset was 4:22pm.

Today, February 2nd, sunrise was 7:02am and sunset will be at 5:06pm: a gain of 13 minutes in the morning and 44 minutes at night … a total of 57 minutes. Over the next two days, we add another 6 minutes making it more than a full hour of additional sunlight since Winter Solstice.

Of course, that is the sciencey stuff. We know that there is more to it than that.