Balancing the year

“The short days are past us now… thus the year balances its accounts. In our latitude we know that each year brings the time when not only the candle but the hearth fire must burn at both ends of the day, symbol not of waste but of warmth and comfort. The sun cuts a small arc far off to the south and shadows and cold lie deep. It is for this time that we, if we live close to the land, lay up the firewood and the fodder. Now we pay for the long days of Summer, pay in the simple currency of daylight. Hour for hour, the accounts are balanced.

And yet, the short days provide their own bonus. The snows come, and dusk and dawn are like no other time of the year. We come to a long Winter night when the moon rides full over a white world and the darkness thins away. For the full-moon night is as long as the longest day of Summer, and the snowy world gleams and glows with an incandescent shimmer.

Year to year, we remember the short days, but we tend to forget the long nights when the moon rides high over a cold and brittle-white world. Not only the moon nights, but the star nights, when it seems one can stand still on a hilltop and touch the Dipper. Who would not cut wood and burn a candle for a few such nights a year?”

-Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons

OK astronomy geeks… with tonight’s solstice and lunar eclipse… is tonight the longest and the darkest night ever?

How many of you mean to stay up to see it?

(shivering at the thought!)

Image from here.

8 thoughts on “Balancing the year”

  1. Well, seeing how there is a full moon lighting up the sky until 1:30 or so, it certainly isn’t the darkest.

    I’ll be out, with fellow geeks, at Coyle Field off Route 72. We’ll be arriving at around 1:00, so there’s still time for you to bundle up and join us. Give me a call and I’ll give you directions.


    If the cold keeps you inside, you can check out my friend (who’ll be out with us) Jerry’s APOD for today.

  2. (I love how the astronomy geeks answer when I summon them!)

    ; )

    Maybe I’ll send some hot cocoa your way, Steve.

    Seriously… I know there’s a full moon, but… the eclipse will hide it, right… so it’s gonna be especially darkish or extra reddish, or something, right?

    ; )

    (flipping blondish locks over shoulder and trying to look extra cute instead of smart)

  3. i got up at 2:45 a.m., watched the orangey-red eclipse until 3 a.m. and then clouds covered it, but what I saw was very cool.

    To my mind, the full moon kind of softened the idea of the longest night. A new moon during the longest night would be a fearsome thing.

    Carolyn H.

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