Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Aah, Midsummer!  Brought to you courtesy of our planet's 23.44° axial tilt...

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

To those who observe the Summer Solstice, one of the two oldest holidays in the history of humankind, we note that 12:16 pm Tuesday 21 June 2011 (Central Time, UTC -5) marks the beginning of summer and the middle of the solar year. The "sol" "sistere" (Latin) is the day the "sun" appears "to stand still," as it reaches its northernmost extreme in the noon day sky. It is the longest day and shortest night of the year and was once a time of great pagan festivals in northern Europe. From here out it will be all downhill as the each day shortens by several seconds as we creep inexorably toward the Winter Solstice, which will occur, Harry Camping's revised prognostications nothwithstanding,  on December 22.