Friday, June 21, 2019


We know the exuberance of it. But do we know the why?

You need only go to simple science to understand the mechanics of the solstice.

Each year there's a solstice, right? Yes, but in fact there are two summer solstices. One per year in the northern hemisphere of the earth, one more per year in the southern hemisphere.

Whatever, the soltice makes people go crazy with celebrations.

Seattle Solstice 2019 photos

Another twist. While Seattle celebrates the longest day of the year with the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade  (photos above) and England celebrates with activities at Stonehenge, Southern Africa turns on the lights for the shortest day of the year. My granddaughter lives in Seattle, near to the Fremont neighborhood. Just now, however, she's on an expedition in southern Africa. Imagine: she'll have two shortest days this year because she jets back to Seattle before the northern hemisphere shortest day. I'm thinking it's disorienting, really.

How astonishing is that? Simply by bouncing from north to south or south to north on just the right days of the year you can double up on two important holidays. You must only cross the equator with good timing. 

Summer Solstice over Stonehenge, England
Sunrise with jet trails to boot
Photograph by Andrew Dunn, 21 June 2005.
via Wikimedia

The most noticeable thing is not that the length of days varies, but that it varies in the same pattern year after year. How long has this been going on? A very long time. 

Could the seasonal thing ever stop? Yes, if the axis of the earth were brought to an exact parallel with the sun. Would there be any benefit to such a change? Well, yes. I can imagine several. For example, a person would need only one wardrobe of clothing, matched to a climate that never changes. 

 But for now, at least,  I wish you a. . .solstice.  Happy. Full of good dreams. Promising of a better, more fun-filled world.

(Seattle photos courtesy of my Phinney Ridge family.)

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