Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Longest Day of the Year

On the Summer Solstice, which occurs on June 21, the Sun is at its highest path through the sky and the day is the longest. Because the day is so long the Sun does not rise exactly in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west allowing it to be in the sky for a longer period of time.

This June 21st, was also my longest day and started with making eggs. More on that later, but speaking of eggs...

On the day of the Vernal (spring) Equinox, can you stand a raw egg on its end.

How it works:

Let's look at it from an astronomical angle: what is special about the Spring (also called the Vernal) Equinox that makes it different from any other time of the year?

The Earth's spin axis is tilted with respect to its orbital plane. This is what causes the seasons. When the Earth's axis points towards the Sun, it is summer for that hemisphere. When the Earth's axis points away, you get winter. The north end of the Earth's axis never points directly at the Sun, but on the summer solstice it points as close as it can, and on the winter solstice as far as it can.

Midway between these two times, in spring and autumn, the spin axis of the Earth points 90 degrees away from the Sun. Note that this happens twice a year, in spring and autumn. If you can stand an egg on its end on the Spring Equinox, surely you can on the Autumnal Equinox as well! Yet this always seems to get overlooked.

So on the first day of spring, the Earth's axis happens to be pointing perpendicularly to the direction of the Sun. Although it might seem like a special event, all it really means is that day and night have about the same length: 12 hours each, more or less.

Now, back to my longest day. It started at 7 a.m. with pancakes, eggs and bacon. What followed was lots of dishes, lunch preparation, gallons of gatorade and tons of cookies for the wood splitters, (hubby Glenn, brother Gary and nephew Seth) more dishes and dinner preparation.

The wood is stacked and drying for this fall and next, there were no accidents and everyone was sore but satisfied with the outcome. That in itself deserves a toast, to spring and family:

"Whenever the occasion arose he/she arose to the occasion"