Friday, March 20, 2009

Vernal Equinox and the Status of Twilight

Today (actually yesterday in North America, where I live) marks the vernal equinox. For those of you who are not photographers, the vernal equinox plays with our concept of twilight. The solstice, typically the longest day of the year, usually gets all the credit for changing the light here-everybody thinks that it makes for the best sunrises, sunsets, and sunbathing, but, those in the know, understand how the lines of the sun, the shadows, and the like all align during the equinox. The solstice (typically, June 21st) offers up the most sunlight, this is true, but it's the equinox (today!) that gives us some of the best twilight hours we'll get to see. I hope that you are now (or in the next few days) enjoying your extended twilight hours.

Today also marks DILO day, or the passing of the art project known as "Day in the Life of..." Today marks the day where everybody who participates (myself included) goes out and takes pictures to demonstrate what their day was like. It's a global event, with DILO images already being posted from around the globe. Check out the flickr group if you are so inclined, to have a look and see what everybody is doing. (This image of the big tree in my backyard, was taken as part of my DILO outing.)

An interesting thing about the solstice, the equinox, and other seasonal events is that these things don't mean that much to us anymore. Historically, these events were very important because, back in the old days, people were farmers, hunters, gatherers, fisherman, sailors, and the like. If you have to hunt for survival, it becomes so much more important to know what time the sun was going to go down. Today, well, most of us are office workers. The "equinox" basically equates to the start of our summer holiday or maybe that happiness we feel when the 5 o'clock hour rolls around. We just don't really care about the seasons as much as we did back then, these things are not all that important to us now.

But, they're still there, turning, twisting, and changing, quietly in the background, even if we do not take notice. The earth rotates about its axis and the sun does its own celestial dance across the sky into night.The orbit of the planet is well-defined and understood now, yet somehow, completely irrelevant. We care more about things like the start of the school year, or when baseball season is going to pitch into full swing.

I do hope you enjoy your equinox this time of year, and that you get out to see, maybe even enjoy, the sky, the stars, the sun, or some other little bit of the seasonal intricacies.

Oh, and, in case you're a high-tech, "ignore all of that seasonal mumbo jumbo" she's posting again kind of person, this is also the day when most satellites go out of whack. Don't blame me if your TV goes on the fritz. It's that pesky earth orbiting 'round the sun, seasons changing yet again antiquated orbital crap that's screwing you this time-I had nothing to do with it, though I might suggest, instead of fighting with the cable box, go outside and enjoy the evening's last twilight.

If you can stand to pry yourself away from watching something like The Simple Life on TV that is.

Until next time...

2 comments:

mythopolis said...

I don't know where the moon is, but isn't that the big dipper? Have you been to Chaco Canyon in New Mex.? Near the top of Fajada Butte, is a spiral petrogyph between some huge slabs of rock. At summer solstice a dagger of sun pierces its very center...at the winter solstice two daggers vertically embrace the spiral at its outermost perimeter! The equinoxes are also marked. You have to drive about an hour on dirt road to get to the canyon...but once there, it is a magical place to camp!

Scriber's Web said...

Yikes. I didn't do it. I intended to but then got too lazy to do it.

That's a beautiful photo! Can't wait to see more!