Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice

One year ago today we took the first picture in this series, recording the north-to-south movement of the sun's path across the sky over the course of a year. To show this movement, we took photos of the sun setting behind the mountains on our western horizon.

There were 4 times during the past year that we took these photos:

Summer Solstice - June 20, 2012
First day of Summer.
Longest period of daylight.
Sun is furthest north and highest in the sky.

Autumnal Equinox - Sept 22, 2012
First day of Fall.
Equal hours of daylight and dark. Mid point between Summer and Winter Solstices.

Winter Solstice - Dec 21, 2012
First day of Winter.
Shortest period of daylight.
Sun is furthest south and lowest in the sky.

Vernal Equinox - March 20, 2013
First day of Spring.
Equal hours of daylight and dark. Mid point between Winter and Summer Solstices.

Summer Solstice - June 21,2013
First day of Summer.

And so on...

Long ago before there were watches, printed calendars and smart phones, our ancestors observed the movements of the sun and stars to keep track of time. Human-built structures such as Stonehenge, Chaco Canyon, Central American pyramids and many other monuments worldwide helped skywatchers to mark the passage of time. They were able to schedule and prepare for annual events such as planting, harvesting, dry and rainy seasons and more through an understanding of the recurring celestial patterns.

Wall mounted Sundial (on south facing wall)

Our wall mounted sundial is a reminder of the times when people couldn't just check a smart phone to know the time of day.

Although the traditional markers of time are no longer in common use, they still work - even if we don't take time to notice.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land.
And the little moments, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.
~ Julia Carney, Little Things

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