Getting Underway

Happy Ten Pipers Piping!  It’s still Christmas.

It doesn’t quite feel like Christmas this late in the season, does it?  But it is.  Saturday is Twelfth Night.  Feel free to have one more party!

Looking ahead, Septuagesima Sunday is February 17.  Ash Wednesday is March 6.  Good Friday is April 19, and Easter is the 21st.

It’s not too early for my usual admonition to observe Septuagesima!  More to come on that.

Life cannot stand still for a fortnight’s winter holiday, alas.  Work has begun again in earnest.  A major writing project will have to be finished quite soon, and there will be the spring semester to plan for.  But that doesn’t mean that one packs away the Christmas spirit on the 26th–like radio stations that play all Christmas, all the time, from Thanksgiving till the last moment of the 25th, then go back to top 40.

In other news, earth reaches perihelion today, January 3, 2019.  Our orbit around the sun is slightly elliptical (for mathematicians, the ellipse is measured at 0.02).  Now, you never orbit around the center of an ellipse, but rather around one of its two foci.  The sun is precisely where it should be, in one of these focal points.  As it happens, the earth reaches its closest point to the sun a few days after the longest night in the northern hemisphere.  Our moment of aphelion this year will be the Fourth of July.

Meanwhile, the sun is already slowly returning, having gained just under a degree of declination since the solstice.  It goes slowly at first, but by later this month the change will be very noticeable and much more rapid.

I know someone with seasonal depression–something I’ve never had an issue with.  It perplexes me how she begins to dread the darkness in the middle of summer, and is so profoundly cheered by that first day in January when it’s not pitch black at 5 PM anymore.

I enjoy the orderly movement of the heavens, and welcome every season.  I don’t see the return of the sun as a “lifeline,” nor its withdrawal as impending disaster.  It’s all good.

Onward we go.

About Jonathan B. Hall

Keyboard artist, sacred musician, teacher, writer, working in New York City and State. Many interests include music theory and history, literature, astronomy, genealogy, philosophy and theology, gardening, and good food. Cat lover, too.
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Christmas, Seasons of the Year. Bookmark the permalink.