Have any of you ever wondered why it is that the longest days of the year in June are not the hottest? Or why it is that February seems to be the coldest month of the year, even after the shortest days have come and gone?
Well, to be honest, I never have considered pondering these mysteries myself! And even if I did, I would not have been able to come up with the correct answers to these curiosities – which I will reveal to you all in a moment – without the help of one of my favorite school subjects, Astronomy. (No! Its not all the weird witch craft superstitious stuff, but it is simply the science of observing the celestial heavens. Trust me.)
Hopefully what I am going to say will be helpful “rule of thumb” for all of you when pondering what date to hold some outdoor event; particularly in the Summer.
As most of us are aware, the sun (to our perspective here on earth) “travels” through the sky, day after day, week after week, month after month, changing its noon position constantly from a very southerly course (skimming along the tops of the trees) in the Winter, to a much more noticeable Northerly course (high overhead) in the Summer until it completes its annual cycle. During the in-between Spring and Autumn months we see that the noon suns are both median (neither high nor low) in their courses.
June is the month in which the sun is at its most Northerly peak in its cycle, and thus we have the Summer solstice, or the longest day of the year. Around this time, the sun begins to level out in its course, and to us, appears to keep its high noon position for a long time – a week and a half after the Summer Solstice is past. It is during this time that something extraordinary occurs; the earth, which is gradually and consistently being exposed to the June sun’s hot rays, begins to trap in all the heat. This happens so slowly however that it takes two months for the heat to fully warm up the air and the surface of the earth!
A long time huh? We don’t even notice a thing until August comes around! And now that your thinking about it, your probably remembering what last August was like, very hot, and very dry! All the humidity of late June and July is just about gone, leaving us with dry ponds, and panting dogs.
The Winter season goes through the same temperature delay. When the 21st of December (the Winter Solstice/ shortest day of the year) comes around we all look out our windows in great expectation of a white Christmas, whenever we should be looking for the snow and ice in the middle of February!
Perhaps now whenever you all look on your calendars to figure out the perfect day to go camping, or plan a family vacation down South in the Summer, or perhaps the perfect ski trip in the Winter, you can have the assurance of knowing just what is the perfect month for those activities!
Ta ta for now! (And enjoy the rest of Winter’s snow while it lasts!)
the eldest sister and singer