Cruising Past The Solstice

NASA Illustration of a Possible Tenth Planet

The solstice, which always proceeds Christmas by a few days arrived this year with an added bonus, a full eclipse on a full moon. According to the news commentators this was the first time in over 400 years that such an event had occurred on the solstice. So, it was with great anticipation that I stayed up on Monday night just to watch the full moon go dark on the longest day of the year.

At midnight the moon was full, but despite a forecast for a bright cloudless night, its brightness was partially obscured by by a bank of clouds. An hour and a half later, I returned to the back deck to view the beginning of the great celestial event, only to find that the clouds had disobeyed the weather forecast and grown thicker. T o make things worst the next day broke clear and sunny and remained that way until sunset.

As I later found out almost every other part of the Southeast had clear skies for the rare happening. It seems that only in the neck of the woods, where I happened to be staying, did the great event become obscured by atmospheric events. Oh Shucks! Maybe I’ll get to witness a solstice lunar eclipse in my next lifetime.

Winter Lights

Christmas lights, Portland, Maine
downtown Christmas lights in Portland, Maine

The solstice has now passed and the days are getting longer, but the thermometer is dropping, as the New Year quickly approaches.

What better time to walk around in the freezing cold and photograph some of the seasonal creations that are on display in this northern city, where hours of actual daylight dips below ten hours.

Perhaps this explains why some of the older cultures resorted to building large bonfires to light up the winter night sky.

Nowadays, in the modern era we have the electricity to do the chore for us.

Here in Portland the popular thing to do is to decorate the tress or buildings with balls of lights. It really does look quite splendid in the long winter sky, but I have noticed that the lighting displays have become increasing thinner as the nation struggles throught he darkness of lean economic times.

Tree with lights
tree with lights in Deering Park in Portland Maine

Here is another picture taken from the city park with a hint of afterglow in the night sky. This concept of hanging lights on trees is quite unique to my eyes and quite wonderful as well.

And finally one more picture of some lights on a tree along with the moon in the night sky which is close to full.

Such is the wonder of the new digital technology, which allows me to go out and take the night picture with a hand held Kodak digital camera, come home and slide the SD card into the slot on my computer and post this picture just hours after it was taken. Best wishes and a Happy New Year, Everett Autumn

Christmas lights covering a tree accented by the moon