Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumnal Equiniox

Happy first of fall! At 15:44:16 UTC, the Earth's celestial equator crossed the ecliptic plane. The celestial equator is, of course, the heavenward projection of our own zero latitude, which separates the northern and southern hemispheres. The ecliptic is the plane on which we circumnavigate the sun. There's about twenty-three point five degrees of separation between these imaginary constructs. Because of this, the sun now appears in declination, rising and setting from points beneath the equator. UTC are scrambled initials, the shorthand standing for Coordinated Universal Time--newfangled, atomic clockwork slang for the time zone known as the Greenwich Mean. That's the Atlantic half of the International Dateline; together they separate the globe into eastern and western hemispheres. UTC isn't adjusted for Daylight Saving Time. Because of this, three forty-four pm UTC is almost fifteen till five in nearby England. That's ten forty-four tonight here in Vietnam where there's no Daylight Saving policy; and about fifteen till noon back at home in North Carolina where there is. As the sun moves south over the celestial equator (also called equinoctial circle, of course), the number of dark and light hours in the day equalize. The sun seems to rise and set over the equator. It's obvious how this vocabulary is related. The sun hardly pauses, continuing to decline even further into the south latitudes. This will bring about the steadily lengthening nighttime hours, lowering temperatures, changing leaves, smell of wood smoke, long orange sunsets and deepening blue twilights, crisply cold air, piles of leaves, pumpkin and corn harvests, and eventual holidays of the northern temperate zone's elongating autumn season. This lasts until the nights are as long as they'll get, when the sun appears at its nadir with respect to the ecliptic, and the oblong season of winter begins. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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