Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today is the Autumnal (fall) Equinox, one of two days when you can tell for sure if a street you drive in the morning or evening runs due East or West! The sun is aligned with the equator today, so it truly rises in the East and sets in the West. From now on the sun will be heading south for the winter.

The equinox also has another little appreciated property: it marks the end of the day at the North pole and the dawn of a new (year-long) day at the south pole. The sun only rises and sets once a year at the poles.

It is also a day when it is easy to tell just how far off your current time (daylight savings here) is off from local "sun" time. The day is exactly 12 hours long, so sunrise and sunset should be at 6 AM and 6 PM (plus or minus some minor corrections because the Earth's orbit is elliptical rather than circular, causing the sun to appear to run fast or slow at various times of the year). If they aren't (and ours isn't even close), you can see how far your daylight has been shifted by the offset of most time zones plus daylight "savings" time.

In other news, today was also the first time I heard a Christmas Tune in a TV ad. The offender was Royal Caribbean. Definitely a sign of hard times if they are pushing holiday tours right now. On the other hand, I have seen two major signs of commercial improvement: the return of catalogs in the mail (although none of them are of the Christmas or Holiday variety), and the return of multiple pages of ads between the cover of The New Yorker and the table of contents. That mag was getting to be as thin as a local newspaper.

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