Tag Archive: Solstice


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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This is an excerpt from the (fictional) journal of a human-like alien stranded on Earth, in southern Africa, roughly 125,000 years ago. His journal will eventually become the Holy Book of many planets in the Jarnian Confederation, which is where my two science fiction novels, Homecoming and Tourist Trap, are set. The parts of the journal that have been blogged to date are on my author website.

The northern solstice has passed!

I have made a calendar of sorts, with Songbird’s aid. There is a particular flat rock I stand on, at the top of the rise where I have built my shelter. I can see the sunset move around the horizon from that point, and though the horizon is not flat, the hills are constant. Songbird goes out with me at sunset every day, and moves until the stake she holds is just lined up with the sun on the horizon. Then she drives it into the ground. If it will not go in (which sometimes happens) she holds it while I pile loose rocks around it.

The last few days the stakes have been almost in the same place, but this evening the position of the stake was definitely south of yesterday’s stake, if by only a fingerwidth.

I think the actual solstice was two days ago. At any rate that is what I will assume in figuring the year length, and in trying to estimate when the rains — and Songbird’s people – will be back.

Songbird was not very enthusiastic about helping me at first, though she was obedient enough to do as I said. More of this “god” stuff, I suppose. But when I explained that I wanted to use the sticks to help me know when to go look for her people’s return, she rapidly started reminding me when it was almost sunset. Her leg has healed without a trace of a limp, and I must admit that I feel rather proud of my skills as a doctor!

Of course I have not been here long enough yet to know exactly when the rains will start and the game and Songbird’s people will return. But both should occur as the sun’s course moves back south.

I want to see that shaman!