The sun will rise at 10:59 this morning (as it has for the last several days) but it will set a little later, at 2:43. Christmas eve is almost a minute longer that December 23, though the sun at noon is only a tenth of a degree higher in the sky. Temperatures are a little bit warmer, though warmer is relative – it was fifty below toward the end of last week. My digital thermometer did get above LL yesterday evening, though it’s still well below zero. (Update 8 am — the temperature is up to 22 below.)

snowstake

Snowstake December 22. Notice the bump left as the snow settled.

Believe it or not we are still getting closer to the sun every day. The moon, on the other hand, is getting higher in the sky as it is approaching full, and is beginning to shine in my bedroom window. The Star Gazer episode last week (Moon of the Short Shadows) was on this opposition of sun and moon, though the graph they used was dead wrong as far as the positions of the rising and setting sun and moon were concerned. The sun this time of year rises in the SSE and sets in the SSW (at least here) and the full moon is already well north of east when it rises.

No new snow, and no snow forecast. What snow we have is settling and leaving a noticeable bump around the base of the snow stake that makes it difficult to read, though I’d guess it’s settled to about 1’ 3”.

We had some serious ice fog last week, and the air quality has been pretty bad. I don’t live in the center of North Pole, but the air quality there is “very unhealthy” and is forecast to remain that way. Why? Wood burning, leading to very high levels of PM-2.5 particulates: the kind that stick in your lungs. Incredibly, in the last Borough election the vote went against regulating wood stoves, which simply means the state and/or the EPA will step in and do it. I have a friend in North Pole who’s on oxygen, and it really does have health effects.

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