Wednesday, December 12, 2012


At 6:12 AM EST on December 21 the Sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky, where it almost is already, and where it will linger. Meanwhile, here in the northern hemisphere it has been getting colder, and will get colder yet as summer's residual heat dissipates. Which means, my friends, that it is time for us old snow birds to wing our way south to our hideaway on the Tropic of Cancer. There will be no post tomorrow. And I can't promise when you'll see the next one. Apparently our phone and DSL are still down from Hurricane Sandy, mainly because I have not been there to sort things out. Ah, well, at least we'll be warm.

Ours is a sunrise house, on the sea facing east. On the 21st, the Sun will rise as far south as it ever gets, almost exactly over the highest point of Stocking Island. Then, morning by morning it will rise a little later, creeping north at first, then hurrying along, until the day we return to New England, March 21, the spring equinox, when it rises due east.

Which is where it would rise every morning if the Earth didn't have a tilt to its axis. Twenty-three-and-a-half degrees, which, when you think about it, is just about what we would have asked for if we had a say. Enough of a tilt to give us significant seasons, with their wonderful variety, but not so much tilt that the seasons are extreme.

Tom is coming for a visit this year, for the first time. He's not a sun and sea sort of guy, but feels, I suppose, a need after all these years to check out the place that the other three kids and grandkids love to visit. I do think he is going to like the sense of being at one with the universe -- Sun, Moon, planets, stars, risings and settings, Milky Way, nebulosities -- things one has to make an effort to see in closed-in, light-polluted New England, but which on the island are always with you. I gave Tom Guy Ottewell's 2013 Astronomical Calendar for Christmas. I couldn't do without it on the island. Like a program for a never-ending show.

Don't go away. I'll be with you next as soon as I can.