Nothing short of spectacular. I’m talking about the events of the couple of weeks or so just past, so let’s explore them bit. When Richard was here, he noted the fall colors just coming on and it was mid-December. And this time of year, the sun is low in the sky all day long and that seems to make colors brighter.
For some reason the nights, the stars, the natural illuminations seem brighter too, perhaps because of the extended length of the nights. We talked a few times back about the wobble of the earth, this week at its extreme inclination, north of the equator. We experienced the longest night of the year a day or two back.
This time of the year the sun is at its lowest angle and slides back in on an angle a few hours later. The sunrises and sunsets are longer and more spectacular as the sun slides out of the sea on an angle. Six months back, give or take a few days, the sun popped straight up out of the sea and many hours later plopped back straight down into the sea. The sunrises and sunsets were shorter and, as I recall, less spectacular.
This is a great time of year to renew a tan, as your skin doesn’t burn so easily. That is, of course, if you can handle the cooler temperatures. The days, though shorter, are not so bright as to blind you. And the heat not so intense, just a kind of pleasant warmth. This is a great time of year, though, you know, they all are, really.
In the Cedar Keys, the weather has been something else. We’ve had just enough rain at just the right time. We’ve had warm days and blanket-type nights. We’ve had some fog, sea smoke as those who work the waters call it, but not so extensive as to cause gray bleakness and depression. I’m still wearing shorts and sandals.
Randy, from Williston set his telescope up here in Cedar Key a few days back, not that many, at the east end of Dock Street. It has an automatic tracking mechanism. Those fortunate few who passed by saw the planet Jupiter in color with its bands of clouds and four of its moons. One time, Anne and I through Randy’s scope witnessed an eclipse of one of those moons.
And he panned the scope to Saturn. We saw the planet and its many rings, the shadow of Saturn falling across those rings. And we saw, I think, four of Saturn’s moons, one some distance away. And he panned to the cloud nebula in the constellation Orion the Hunter; his shield outstretched to ward off Taurus the Bull.
Then he swung his scope to the moon. You could see the craters and the mountains and the plains in full relief. It wasn’t a flat moon as in a picture. You could see the sphere, the curve, you could tell it was round. I remember as a teenager making a telescope with good enough resolution to see those same craters.
That same moon this week was the brightest recorded by man, maybe the brightest ever. And that full moon came on the longest night of the year. And we had and are still having the lowest tides I remember in a few years. Look in the morning early. Goose Cove has been so empty you could walk from the Spit to the Airport over a route normally under water.
And to top it all off, just a few days back, we witnessed a nighttime launch of the space shuttle at first like an orange explosion later to become whiter, brighter, and then to jettison the two solid boosters, visible from here, and on to full burn out and to something less than a speck in the sky.
Nothing short of spectacular have been these past many days right at the turn of the century. I wonder what’s next? Let’s talk next time. Meanwhile have a great holiday season. Go for it.