web analytics

Thank christ it’s the solstice


Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in our hemisphere. Thirty thousand hippies turned up at Stonehenge, but it was cloudy and they couldn’t see the sun rise, so all they dressed up like assholes and got stoned. Oh, wait — that’s what they were going to do anyway.

This is the first I’ve spent time in England in Summer — it costs a fortune to fly overseas during the tourist season, so all my trips were off-peak — and I am so damned happy to see the solstice come and go.

See this map? I threw a lassoo around Britain and pulled it directly West. You’ll note that London is more or less in a line with Hudson Bay. Here’s what the forecast said for the day of the solstice:

                sunrise    sunset
London           4:47       9:21
Providence       5:13       8:24
Nashville        5:31       8:08

Given that it’s light long before sunrise and stays that way long after sunset, you can easily see that it never gets dark in England. Land of the Frakkin’ Midnight Sun, that’s what it is. Also, lucky me, it’s The Year It Never Rains Along the South Coast. The sun, it burnnnnssss ussssss.

Of course, I’ll catch up on my sleep in Winter, when it’s dark for six months. Natural born Mole Person, me.


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: June 22, 2009, 8:43 pm

OK, cliche time–but this is one of those very early, memories that just can’t help rising in response to certain stimuli:

Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

from A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson

I was appalled to find that I don’t actually own a copy of the Child’s Garden (how can that be? Did someone borrow and not return it? Is my mind losing its grip?) So I had to borrow this from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/136/136.txt

Comment from Andrea Harris
Time: June 22, 2009, 9:24 pm

When my mother and I were in Scotland (in a July long, long ago), we were amazed at how the sun just never seemed to set. Maybe it finally did around eleven or so, after we’d fallen asleep at the bed and breakfast, I dunno.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 22, 2009, 9:31 pm

Yes, it’s still visibly light at ten-thirty, eleven. And, as we stay up late, it’s visibly light when we go to bed. It’s wearing me out.

What else is wearing me out? I broke my spacebar earlier, and I’m having to copy and paste space.


Comment from GruntDoc
Time: June 22, 2009, 10:32 pm

Not to be a pedant, but the day was the same length as the others; it was the day with the longest duration of sunlight.

Did I mention I was raised by sticklers for detail?

Comment from ATNorth
Time: June 22, 2009, 11:32 pm

the best part about England is the 4 days of summer. You don’t have to work nearly as hard to stay up until sunrise.

Comment from HowardDevore
Time: June 22, 2009, 11:56 pm

Um Weas? if its XP using the built in keyboard might be better: http://www.disability.uiuc.edu/services/at/index.php?sub=34#12

Comment from Войска ПВО
Time: June 23, 2009, 1:10 am

..no, this is not stupid. It is a link to the U.S. Naval Observatory site which will allow you to prepare an annual sunrise and sunset table for any input lat/lon:


Think you guys got it good at around 45 degrees North latitude? Try Wasilla, Alaska.

Oh, and it’s nice to see that one can obtain somehting from the federal gummint without being taxed or having to fill out [paper] forms.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: June 23, 2009, 2:40 am

I used to live outside Bradford (same latitude as Leeds in your mini-map, or about 20 miles north of Edmonton). I got stranded in Menston after a major session one night in midsummer and had to walk the ten miles home (it’s six as the crow flies, but I was too pissed to take off). Navigation was no problem, as the sky was bright enough to be able to read road signs from a distance. Plus I have a preternatural sense of direction. Menston-Guisely-Shipley-Bradford-Laisterdyke 2am – 5am with a gallon of beer in me*: that was a trek. The sun had been up for almost an hour by the time I crawled into bed. If you’ve ever wondered what ‘indigo’ actually looks like, it’s the colour of the night sky in northern England in June.

The flipside was late October to February, when you got up in the dark and went home in the dark, as CHMC alluded. It was cold and dank and horribly, horribly depressing. Now I have 12-13 hours of daylight month in month out, and it still freaks me out after ten years.

* at least when I set out

Comment from jwpaine
Time: June 23, 2009, 8:57 am

Weez! I feel your pain. The “o” key fell off abut 8 months after I bought this laptp, I got it back n but it is now very temperamental (it takes twice as lng to type something since I have to actually proofread, and who has time for that?). The left control key (the one I always use) fell off tw years ago. And the “c” fell off last year (sometimes it won’t hit, smetimes it hits twice).

/unproofread for your viewing pleasure.

Comment from Jakeman
Time: June 23, 2009, 9:33 am

Weasy, that’s a hugely instructive map. We’re in New Brunswick for the year, with the potential to be in London in 2010-11. I guess Wifey better upgrade from those shitty cheap crap eyemasks she bought.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 23, 2009, 11:56 am

Jakeman, I highly recommend a heavy-duty one with a gel insert. Even without putting the insert in the fridge (though that is lovely), the insert is cool when you slip it on in the morning. It’s the only way I get any sleep at all.

(Typed on my OTHER laptop. The one that isn’t fucked).

Comment from Oldcat
Time: June 23, 2009, 2:16 pm

Stanley Weinbaum wrote a SF story in the 1930s using this as a plot point – the Panama isthmus was destroyed in a volcanic eruption and the Gulf Stream was diverted. Thus England and Europe would have the same climate as Baffin Island and Alaska.

All out war was averted when the US built enough of a wall over sunken Panama to restore the status quo.

Comment from Allen
Time: June 23, 2009, 6:09 pm

You mean they actually have to forecast sunrise and sunset in England? They’re not sure? Those crazy Brits 🙂

I spent a winter up near Fairbanks. Now that was some weird stuff. The sun comes up just above the horizon at around 11 AM then sets in nearly the same spot around 2 in the afternoon. Does that mean east and west are the same thing?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 23, 2009, 7:49 pm

I read that one, Oldcat! I think of it often here.

I had that whole Weinbaum short story collection. Mine was missing its cover. There was the one about Mars and that ostrich-like alien named Tweel. And that drum-shaped silicon creature with all the eyes. And the one that made bricks.

Oh, and the one where they stopped the unstoppable alien by sealing her into something, where I learned that no creature can live in its own waste.

Weinbaum was a pretty amazing author for the time, now largely forgotten.

Comment from Войска ПВО
Time: June 25, 2009, 7:47 pm

Comment from Allen:

“I spent a winter up near Fairbanks. Now that was some weird stuff. The sun comes up just above the horizon at around 11 AM then sets in nearly the same spot around 2 in the afternoon. Does that mean east and west are the same thing?”

..nah, Allen, “East is least and West is best.”

(From my old USAF nav schooling.)

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny