Changing Seasons: Summer’s Arrival

Sunrise June 17-2015 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sunrise June 17-2015
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Since childhood, I have enjoyed watching the sun rise.  Something about the light’s rays and colors draws me in, keeps my attention, and allows me to ponder life’s meaning in a deeper sense.  In some respect, I feel it is God’s way of communicating with my soul and nature’s way of communicating with my mind and body.

Long ago, I noticed the sun rose in the far northeast corner of our property in the summer.  During the winter, it rose in the far southeast corner.  Until now, I never really considered why the change of location occurred.  I simply knew that summer was far to the left of my viewpoint and winter was far to the right.

Why the Sunrise Moves

The reason the location of the sunrise moves has to deal with the earth’s tilt.  As the earth spins through its orbit, it may tilt toward or away from the sun.  The amount of tilt of the earth’s axis is 23.5 degrees.   Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman, recorded observations regarding the earth’s orbit in the 1500’s.  After his death in 1601, Johannes Kepler, used Brahe’s data to establish laws governing the planets’ movements and to determine the earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees.  This tilt allows the northern and southern hemispheres to experience seasons.

When the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, it is summer in my area.  When the earth tilts the opposite direction, it is winter.  The names given to these tilts are the June or summer solstice and the December or winter solstice.

Understanding Solstices

During a solstice, the sun’s zenith is the furthest point from the equator.  Solstices happen twice a year, once on June 20, 21, or 22; and once on December 20, 21, or 22, hence the names given above.  The sun is directly overhead during a solstice.  The latitude locations at which this occurs are +23.5 degrees north of the equator, also called the Tropic of Cancer, and -23.5 degrees south of the equator, also called the Tropic of Capricorn.

summer-solstice

Source: http://scijinks.jpl.nasa.gov/solstice/

The word tropic is from the Greek word tropi, meaning turn.  Cancer and Capricorn refer to the constellations with which the sun aligned at the time the names were given (about 2000 years ago).  Changes due to the earth’s wobble on its axis have since changed the constellations with which the earth aligns during summer and winter.

Clouds in the Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clouds in the Sky
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Solstices and Daylight

With the summer solstice comes the most daylight hours, or the longest day of the year.  In my area, this means the sun will rise at 5:50 am and set at 8:55 pm EST on June 21.  The winter solstice equates to the shortest day of the year.  On this day, the sun rises around 7:40 am and sets around 4:55 pm EST.

I learned this many years ago and often use it as a point in conversation.  Some people think I’m a bit crazy for memorizing the times of sunrise and sunset, but I prefer to think of it as my way of being in tune with nature.

An interesting point to note is the latest sunrise occurs at 7:56 am EST November 4, 5, or 6 in my area, which is not the shortest day of the year.  My point here is the earliest sunrise and latest sunset are part of the longest day of the year, referred to as the summer solstice.  However, the winter solstice, or shortest day of the year, does not occur when sunrise is the latest possible time.

What the Summer Solstice Brings

Along with the most hours of daylight, the summer solstice brings changes to the landscape.  Some changes in my area include:

  • Ripe strawberries on the vine
  • Blueberry bushes starting to form fruit from blossoms
  • Daylilies in bloom
  • Elderberries in bloom
  • Portulaca in bloom
Strawberry in my garden Lisa A. Wisniewski

Strawberry in my garden
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Daylillies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Daylillies
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Elderberry bloom Lisa A. Wisniewski

Elderberry bloom
Lisa A. Wisniewski

The summer solstice also offers much to contemplate.  Typically, I put my contemplations into poetry.  The following is what I call my “summer reflection” for this year:

Summer in the Sky

Summer in the sky,
Clouds wispy white
Moving overhead
Of the soul that treks
Onward with time
Looking for the light.

Summer in the sky,
Blazing bold in the quiet time
Of the early morn
Long before
The world awakes
To the blessings of the day.

Summer in the sky,
Myriad colors God uses to write
His messages of love
To each and every one
Seeking His grace
Throughout life’s race.

Summer in the sky,
What a blessed, blessed time
To touch and see,
Live and be
Part of the season
That gives life new meaning.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski
June 20, 2015

Portulaca Lisa A. Wisniewski

Portulaca
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Earth’s tilt – http://www.universetoday.com/26778/tilt-of-the-earth/

Johannes Kepler – http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/ask-a-question/148-people-in-astronomy/history-of-astronomy/general-questions/995-who-and-when-discovered-that-the-earth-s-axis-is-on-a-23-degree-tilt-intermediate

June solstice – http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/june-solstice.html

Solstice – http://www.geography-dictionary.org/Solstice

Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn – http://scijinks.jpl.nasa.gov/solstice/

Tycho Brahe – http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/brahe.html

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