An Unlucky Solstice

I’m beginning to wonder just how strong a hex the fashion police put on me that one time I went out in public wearing swimming shorts…

I’m finally in a good mood, or at least I’m not in a deeply emotionally numb state where nothing is interesting. But I feel as though the world is conspiring to put me right back there. Which would be awfully rude if it was. Just for one minor fashion infringement, I’d hate to find out what happens when you leave the house wearing a mankini, a deer hunters hat, crocs and a bumbag (that’s a fanny pack in America).

Not only have I had to put up with a terrible sun burn, the appearance of which is embarrassing enough and sensation has been true burning torture when attempting to get to sleep. But then I got sick. Which for me is quite out of the ordinary, I never really get sick. That might sound like a really great thing and now I’m an adult I suppose it is, but it was very frustrating when I was at school. Everyone else got to stay home because they were sick… when was my day off?!

Anyway I was sick, fairly violently I might add. Which was inconvenient because I’d agreed to do an extra shift that night. But I got over it pretty fast and I’m fine now. But the heat wave is persisting and right now I would be having a nice cold shower to keep my core temperature down, I got ready to hop in and everything. Then I discover I have no water…

So on the phone I go, listen to some “delightful” hold music, talk to a chap who guesses why I’m calling as soon as he gets my post code and am currently no closer to that shower. The fact that I probably smell is a problem for my colleagues to deal with not me…. Actually I’ve just checked and there’s no probably about it… Maybe I should do something about that.

Despite all this I’m still in a pretty decent mood. Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It’s also my parents 38th wedding anniversary but the movements of the Earth around the Sun are probably more widely interesting…

If you’re not up to date on your basic space knowledge, and by that I mean if you’re currently about 500 years behind the latest space news, yes the Earth revolves around the Sun. Some people before Copernicus decided that was probably the case but the idea didn’t really gain much traction until he strolled in in the 15th Century. Of course the Catholic Church wasn’t very happy with Copernicus and his book so it still took some time before it was common knowledge.

Anyway you’ve probably seen those little solar system models with the planets on moveable prongs that circle the Sun. If television has taught me anything, it’s that American’s have to make those at school. But even though they don’t put Pluto on as a planet any more they still aren’t all that accurate. Because the Earth, and the rest of the planets for that matter, don’t move in a perfect circle around the Sun. It’s an elliptical shape (an oval in basic shapes, I don’t know why it needed a fancy name). And one end of the oval is closer to the sun than the other. Here’s a diagram I didn’t draw because I’m too hot and lazy right now.

Image result for Earth movement around sun elliptical

And after looking at this image you might be thinking to yourself well hang on a minute… if Earth is closer to the Sun in March… why is it hotter in June? Although I must confess you’d probably only be thinking that if you lived in the Northern hemisphere.  And honestly I’m sort of wondering it myself but lacking the motivation to research it. What I can tell you though, is that the reason the 21st of June is the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) is because that’s when the Earth sits at it’s maximum tilt toward the Sun. The North pole tilts 23.44° towards the Sun to be exact. This means the sun is high in the sky for longer than the rest of the year when Earth is quite so tipsy in the Sun’s favour.

So if you didn’t know already there’s some science. If you did know, here’s a conundrum my Dad asked me while he was visiting.

If space is cold, how does the Sun’s heat get to us?

I said he should probably ask mum because she knows these things but thinking about it, that would probably some how cause an argument… ah young love…

S. Hansen


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