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Have a Very Merry Solstice! Winter Solstice Images from NASA’s APOD

December 21, 2009

For those of us on the West coast of the Pacific, winter began this Monday morning December 21 at 9:47am. Now the days will become longer and the nights shorter oh so slowly! until Mon. June 21, 2010 at 4:28am when the days will shrink and the nights will grow long again.

My favorite aspect of winter is that the nights here are so clear and we can enjoy the bright moon longer. Next winter solstice we will celebrate a full moon and a total lunar eclipse!

According to NASA’s photograph of the day on this year’s winter solstice, this photo pictured, Tutulemma: Solar Eclipse Analemma (by Credit & Copyright: Cenk E. Tezel and Tunç Tezel TWAN) depicts what you would capture if you went outside at exactly the same time every day and took a picture to see how the Sun would appear to move. The explanation of this photo continues:

With great planning and effort, such a series of images can be taken. The figure-8 path the Sun follows over the course of a year is called an analemma. This coming Tuesday, the Winter Solstice day in Earth’s northern hemisphere, the Sun will be at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. With even greater planning and effort, the series can include a total eclipse of the Sun as one of the images. Pictured is such a total solar eclipse analemma or Tutulemma – a term coined by the photographers based on the Turkish word for eclipse. The composite image sequence was recorded from Turkey starting in 2005. The base image for the sequence is from the total phase of a solar eclipse as viewed from Side, Turkey on 2006 March 29. Venus was also visible during totality, toward the lower right.

Last winter solstice, I posted this image which I absolutely LOVEand which has become quite popular in recent weeks sending my stats soaring with lots of people heading over to the site of photographer Danilo Pivato! Here’s the image again along with the explanation from the NASA APOD site:

Tyrrhenian Sea and Solstice Sky
Credit & Copyright: Danilo Pivato

Explanation: Today the Solstice occurs at 0608 Universal Time, the Sun reaching its southernmost declination in planet Earth’s sky. Of course, the December Solstice marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south. When viewed from northern latitudes, the Sun will make its lowest arc through the sky along the southern horizon. So in the north, the Solstice day has the shortest length of time between sunrise and sunset and fewest hours of daylight. This striking composite image follows the Sun’s path through the December Solstice day of 2005 in a beautiful blue sky, looking down the Tyrrhenian Sea coast from Santa Severa toward Fiumicino, Italy. The view covers about 115 degrees in 43 separate, well-planned exposures from sunrise to sunset.

So what is NASA’s APOD? It’s the Photograph of the Day–a fabulous image of the heavens to inspire those of us on earth. In January, the top photos of the year are selected and highlighted: APOD presents: Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007Su Learn more about APOD here: About APOD.

This year we once again celebrated Winter Solstice with a Santacon Bike Ride. More on that soon with lots more pictures by Sheila Piala (who took this one with her iPhone and posted it directly to my facebook wall!)

So have a very merry solstice! Here’s a winter solstice ritual and invocation. Here are winter solstice activitiesThis will take you to ways winter solstice has been celebrated other places.

Great God of the Sun,
I welcome Your return.
May You shine brightly upon the Goddess;
May You shine brightly upon the Earth,
scattering seeds and fertilizing the land.
All blessings upon You,
Reborn One of the Sun!
Know that you are Blessed.
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