Doorhenge

If you live near the equator, the time of the sunrise is almost the same throughout the year. When I was living in Manila, the earliest sunrise is about 5:30 in the morning, and the latest will be at 6:30. The more distance you live above or below the equator, the more the difference in the times of sunrises and sunsets through the year.

Where I live now here in Iowa, the earliest sunrise is at 4:40 (Standard time) in June, but due to Daylight Saving Time from March to November, so the adjusted time is 5:40 in the morning. We have about 15 hours of daylight at this time. Then the latest sunrise is at 7:40 in December, and have only 9 hours of daylight.

Have you also noticed that the sunrises and sunsets are not in the same spot on the horizon all year? This is due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation, which is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees (sorry, I’m such a nerd). As a result, at some points in the orbit of Earth, the north pole is tilted towards the sun, and at other points it is tilted away from the sun, making the location of sunrises and sunsets different depending on the time of year.

By the way, that specific tilt of 23.5 degrees of Earth is also the reason for the different seasons of the year. But that is a subject of discussion perhaps for another time.

With regards to viewing sunrises, one enigma of our civilization is the ancient structure, the Stonehenge. One theory is that it was built as a celestial observatory. Though it could be an altar or some kind of sacred monument as well. In any case, it is built to have been perfectly arranged to face the midsummer sunrise, and midwinter sunset. So if you stand in just the right place inside the Stonehenge monument on the day of the northern summer solstice, you’ll see the sunrise align through those pillars.

A similar phenomenon also happens in New York City, when the setting of the sun aligns perfectly with the grid-pattern streets of Manhattan, which happens twice a year, typically in May and July. This is also known as the Manhattanhenge.

Interestingly, I have a similar event in my house here in Iowa. That is on a certain time of the year, the sunrise perfectly aligns with my front door and shines directly through the corridor and into our living room.

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When this happen, I know that we are halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Or this is just time to let the sunshine in and start a new day.

Have a good day everyone!

(*photo taken last weekend with an iPhone)

 

 

 

A Long Day

Someone asked me how I’m doing today, and I answered, “A long day”.  Aside from having a difficult day it was also a very long day……literally.

Today is the summer’s solstice which means it is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Countries in the northern hemisphere, had more than 15 hours of daylight today. In Des Moines, the sun rose at 5:40 this morning and did not set until 8:52 this evening.

I like consistency. Since I grew up in a tropical country near the equator, I am used to having the length of days and nights almost equivalent the whole year through. Unlike here in the US, the days are very long (15 hours daylight) during summer, like now; while days can be very short (9 hours daylight) during winter, when it’s already dark at 4 in the afternoon. This is throwing my system off.

The changes in the length of days affects the biological clock, sleeping patterns, moods and general well-being. That is why Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD), like the ‘winter blues’,  are prevalent here. (Now I’m sounding like a Psychiatrist.)

Well, tomorrow will not be as long as today (a minute shorter to be exact). But then I remembered that I will be on-call tomorrow. That will make for a really long day….. and night.