Winter Solstice Explained…well sort of…..


Hey Cottagers! It’s December 21st, and you know what that means….yup…for all intents and purposes, it is the shortest day in terms of daylight, and is referred to as the December Solstice, or Winter Solstice.

And you thought it just meant there were only 4 days left to Christmas shop.

In astronomy, this is the point in time that we amateur and professional astronomer’s use to mark the earth’s annual trip around the sun.

Yup….you know what that means, we’ve come full circle….

Now bear with me, this is gonna get technical….men, you might want to get your wives in on this to help you understand….so here goes….

As you are sitting on your cottage deck in July watching the pre-dawn lake, waiting for enough light to go fishing, you know that the sun will soon be up. But did you ever wonder why the sun comes up?

Easy really, the sun comes up because each day the Earth rotates every 24 hours as it travels in it’s orbit around the sun. So the Earth is going around the sun in a big circle, and it’s spinning as it does so, much like the tilt-a-whirl at the Cottage County Fair in August…it goes around and around and the seats go around too. Well that is what the Earth is doing.

Solstice happens because not only is the earth going around and around, it’s also tilting a bit, changing the angle that the light from the sun touches the Earth. That tilting is why the North experiences total darkness 24 hours a day for a period.

During the winter solstice, the sun is low across the Northern sky, leaving us with less daylight, thus the shortest day. The good news is, once that time has passed, the sun starts to go higher again a little each day, lengthening the daylight we receive. So that’s the good news, it gets better from here on until June, when the reverse happens, the Summer Solstice, and we get to enjoy those long days of June at the cottage, when daylight seems to last forever.

At least here in the North. The sun is by then as high as it gets, stretching our daylight hours.

Now those are the days to be at the cottage….dusk doesn’t happen until around 9:30 or 10:00 and dawn comes early. Perfect days for fishing….I wish I was fishing now….it’s a Nor’Easter here at the moment, meaning the wind is whipping down our street, the snow is piling up in drifts and my four wheel drive Tracker is in my Buddy’s shop needing a gas line repair….bad timing…..the part had to be ordered.

You don’t know how much 4 wheel drive is until you have it and then don’t have it when you need it.

In the upcoming June, as you and your friends and family gather round the cottage campfire you can now tell everyone all about the effects of the earth’s rotation around the sun and explain summer and winter solstice theory. I’m sure they will be enthralled….or….on second thought, perhaps you’d better off to stick with singing some campfire songs.

By the way, I have a little disclaimer at the bottom of this blog that essentially says you can’t believe anything I tell you as being right….might want to keep that in mind.

Rob

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