The SUN IS BACK. All hail the sun.
In a number of cultures in the past, the priests or spiritual leaders would get up before dawn, so they could greet the sun’s daily return. Some religions even considered the sun a God.
That big ball of solar radiation in the sky, is a welcome sight after the long winter’s cold, because without it, we would all freeze to death real fast. And for those who don’t like nuclear power consider this, the sun is a giant nuclear reactor, that keeps us all alive with its radiation and even provides the UV rays, that allow plants to grow. No plants, no oxygen, no us.
Here is something else to consider. On this day, February the twenty first, the sun will rise above the horizon at 8:07 a.m. and it will set at 5:35 p.m. giving us nine hours, 28 minutes of sun. We will be getting six more minutes of sun today. In one week, we will gain an extra 42 minutes of daylight. Not only is that remarkable, but noticeable. Especially since twilight will also gain around 42 minutes.
By March 20, we will reach 12 hours of sun and the spring equinox.
Twilight is a bit tricky because the powers that be have astronomical, nautical and civil twilight. It all has to do with the fact that the elevation you are at affects this and there are rules for planes and boats concerning, daylight, twilight and dark. Big boats have to put lights on at night, so other boats can see them, and small planes can only fly when there is enough light to see the ground. Being able to see the ground helps landings and takeoffs.
The sun is also getting higher in the sky. Solar noon on this day is at 12:51 p.m. and the sun will be 17 degrees above the horizon. Everyday it will get a little higher. In one week, seven days from now, it will be at 20 degrees in the sky. This is why, sometimes when you are driving the sun comes glaring in and blinding drivers even though it is only mid-day.
Now if you live on the planet and watch the sun’s progress through time, it appears as if the sun is moving across the sky when in fact it is the earth rotating that causes that illusion. So, try this little experiment. Watch the sun rise and imagine the earth slowly rotating under the sun. During the day imagine the same thing and at sunset imagine the earth again rotating. It gives you a whole new perspective, to get that feel that it is the earth and you moving and not the sun. Ancient astronomers figured that one out, but many people still feel or allude to the sun moving, not us. One warning though, some people get dizzy when they realize it is we who are moving, and not the sun.
Now if you want to know where due south is, here is a little trick. It’s one I learned in Boy Scouts and one I have even used as a prospector one time when I was out by myself and my compass broke. Mid-morning go outside and stick a pole, one or two metres tall, into the ground. Then with a smaller stick or small stone mark the end of its shadow. Do this every twenty minutes or so and the stones will get closer and closer to the pole in a sort of arc and then they will start getting farther away and will have formed a U-shaped curve. Now draw a line between the part of the U closest to the pole, to the pole and you will have established a true north-south line with the pole to the south and the U to the north.
Now that the sun and daylight has returned, one suddenly notices how dirty the windows are. It is still too cold out to wash the outsides but if you are keen you can wipe some of the dust off. Also, one often notices the spider webs which have mysteriously appeared in corners and on the ceiling. You have to love spiders, the way they just move in and make themselves at home.
I love the way the sun’s radiation will start to melt things even though the air temperature is well below zero. It’s a wondrous world and things are always changing.