Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Watching for the greatest gift of all

All this talk about Christmas and gifts! The best things in life are free, right? 

Send me out to the Lake Superior shore to watch for the greatest gift of all: the return of the sun. 

I live where I can see the sun rise from the lake's edge almost every morning. The beach of Park Point is my Stonehenge, against which I can measure the change of the seasons.

For the last six months, the spot where the sun rises has been moving from "left" to "right" along the blue horizon. 

In summer, I'm up early for rowing and I know the sun rises far to the north of east, straight out from the beach. 

Nearly every winter morning I walk the poodle on the beach. Lately, I have to bring sunglasses for the morning walk because, on the way back to the house, the rising sun is nearly in my eyes. 

Now, as we pass the solstice, the sun will stop it's journey to the "right" (or south) and begin to come back to the "left" (or north). 

This is all really hard to explain with just text. I was talking live on KUMD this morning with Lisa Johnson and I just couldn't explain it on the air. I need a chalkboard and a PowerPoint presentation. 

Here are a few links I've found that provide those graphics:

The winter solstice according to Crystalinks.

Wikipedia's take on the solstice.

Best of all, watch out for it yourself. You might not have Park Point or the straight edge of a Lake Superior shoreline to meaure against, but you should have some other marker: a field, a tree, a spot in your backyard.

The return of the sun: the greatest gift of all.

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