Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solstice: All Hail the Monsoon!

The Summer Solstice occurred in the northern hemisphere this year at 23:59 (UT) on Friday, 20 June, which translates to 17:59 MDT. The Summer Solstice is Midsummer's Day, or the day of longest daylight; from this time forth days will be getting shorter in the northern hemisphere.

I caught the Solstice Sunrise very early in the morning from the front of the house.
Clouds were moving in rapidly, from the southwest.

The North American Monsoon appears to be setting up early this year, and afternoon thunderstorms were expected.

Since last August, I have been taking pictures of the sunrise on Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross-quarter days from the meadow behind our house, as well, in order to get a document of the yearly circle of the seasons.

On the Summer Solstice morning, I had to wait an hour from sunrise for the clouds to clear--somewhat. On the winter solstice the sunrise was over the roof of our house on the far-right foreground of this picture.

As the moisture in the morning air and the barometer predicted, the first afternoon thundershower of Monsoon 2008 occured shortly after 4 PM. At 3:50, I felt a shift in the pressure, and then a cold wind came up out of the north-west.

At 4:15, we had light sprinkles followed by marble-sized hail streaking down from the north and bouncing across the driveway. It makes quite a percussion solo on the metal roof of the house, too!

Then came the rain--a steady thunder-shower that fell for about half an hour, bringing water to the thirsty trees and grasses, and washing the dust and gravel off the roads and patios.

The Engineering Geek arrived home in the middle of it, and of course I had to go out and greet him. We stood, lifting our faces to the blessed rain.

The Monsoon has arrived early and this is a promising beginning to the summer season in the mountains of New Mexico.

True to Monsoonal form, the rain stopped at about 5 PM, and the clouds completely cleared away two hours later.

After we took our pre-Shabbat luxury bath, I was able to photograph the sunset just about two hours past the actual moment of the Summer Solstice.

Here, the sun is setting as far north on the western horizon as possible, 23' 27" north of where it set on the Vernal Equinox. The setting place for the Vernal Equinox is on the far left of the picture. The distance in degrees from the sunset on the Vernal Equinox to sunset on the Summer Solstice is equal to the tilt of the earth. It is the tilt of the earth that gives our planet seasons and gives us the ability to count time by where the sun appears to rise and set on the horizon.

The Wheel of the Year keeps on turning with the spin of the earth, and the seasons alternate, making ours a very fertile planet, burgeoning with life.

1 comment:

Amie said... the days are getting shorter.