Sunday, June 20, 2021

Calling all Druids: It's the June Solstice and you know what that means

Go to Stonehenge and get naked.

All non-Druids should disregard the previous sentence.

At 11:56 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) today, June 20th, which is actually 3:56 a.m. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), June 21st, summer will officially arrive in the Northern Hemisphere, even though in Australia it is now winter.

Where I live, in Canton, Georgia, USA, there will be fourteen and a half hours between sunrise and sunset (what might be called Day) and only nine and a half hours of what might be called Night, give or take a bit of twilight (dusk and dawn) at either end. In places farther north it stays light even longer. I sort of remember living in Poughkeepsie, New York, back in the 1960s and summer daylight didn't end until around 10:30 p.m., if I remember correctly. There is always the possibility that I am hallucinating. Above the Arctic Circle there will now be 24 hours of daylight for a while.

As most of you know, our Earth is tilted on its axis, 23 and a half degrees off of vertical. This causes all sorts of interesting phenomena to occur, not least of which was the establishment of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

In a 2019 article at Thoughtco.com, writer Matt Rosenberg elaborated on these very Tropics:

"The Tropic of Cancer was named because at the time of its naming, the sun was positioned in the Cancer constellation during the June solstice. Likewise, the Tropic of Capricorn was named because the sun was in the constellation Capricorn during the December solstice. The naming took place about 2000 years ago, and the sun is no longer in those constellations at that time of year. At the June solstice, the Sun is in Taurus, and at the December solstice, the sun is in Sagittarius.

"Geographic features like the equator are reasonably straightforward, but the Tropics can be confusing. The Tropics were marked off because they are both places within the hemisphere where it is possible to have the sun directly overhead. This was an important distinction for ancient travelers who used the heavens to guide their way. In an age when our smartphones know where we are at all times, it's hard to imagine how hard getting around used to be. For much of human history, the position of the sun and stars was often all explorers and traders had to navigate by."

So now you know. My work here is done, at least for today. There's always tomorrow.

I feel that this post is missing something, but I refuse to show you any pictures of naked Druids.

10 comments:

  1. A very informative post! You took me back to geography class and reminded me of what I learned.

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    1. Bonnie, speaking of geography, I read the other day that an unbelievable number of Americans think Niagara Falls is in Iceland, so it might be fair to say that we are geographically challenged as a people. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      I seem to vacillate between lucid and unhinged. You caught me on one of my lucid days.

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  2. You are so full of information today. Thank you.

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    1. Emma, see the final paragraph in my reply to Bonnie above. You’re welcome.

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  3. Today in Sydney, we have 9 hours, 53 minutes of day. It's cold and grey. I'll be happy to see the days lengthen a little

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    1. kylie, the startling similarity between the hours of daylight where you are on the solstice and the hours of darkness where I am on the solstice prompted me look something up, and I learned this bit of fascinating information: Sydney is located at 33.8° South latitude and Atlanta is located at 33.7° North latitude!

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  4. At this time of year in Yorkshire - sometimes referred to as The Garden of Eden - we experience only about four hours of total darkness a night. Of course it is very different in late December. Once I was in Iceland at this time of year and there was no total darkness whatsoever. Thanks for explaining how The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn acquired their names - I did not know that.

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    1. Neil, it is difficult to picture Adam and Eve running naked through Yorkshire. What would they have used instead of fig leaves?

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  5. In the Outer Hebrides at Midsummer we experience no total darkness and, indeed, the sun just dips to about 6 degrees below the horizon for a very short while at midnight.

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  6. Graham,.I have often wished that my one and only trip to the far north (Stockholm in 1969) had been in July instead of February!

    Does all that daylight affect your ability to sleep?

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<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

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