Thursday, December 11, 2008

Solstice approaches

The sun is just starting to settle down a tad later today than it did yesterday. The solstice is still over a week away, but the evening light is creeping back. (Really creeping--the sunset today is only a few seconds later than yesterday, but I'll take it.)

The days are still getting shorter, true, and will for a few more days. If we used a sundial, our earliest sunset would indeed fall on the winter solstice.

Unfortunately, we use clocks. Blame the Benedictine monks.

So here's a little brain exercise for your science class. Mention to your students that the sun is starting to set a little later each day. With any luck, the smart aleck in the back will say in his best wise guy voice--"You got it wrong--the shortest day of the year is still over a week away."

Might make for a nice discussion on time.

Another fun mini-lesson to present in class....correlation does not mean causation.

The Science Times last week reported that Scorpios are more likely to develop asthma than those under any other zodiac sign.

Stars at work?

Well, maybe the sun--children born in the fall are at a critical age during the winter months. At 4 months or so, their maternal antibodies are waning, and respiratory viruses are rampant.

(If you really want to annoy the astrology folk, point out that the zodiac signs are based on the position of stars over 2000 years ago. Pisces now rules when the vernal equinox arrives.)

The Stonehenge photo is at winter solstice in 2004, found here. There may well be copyright issues, but I figure since my ancestors helped build it, sharing a few photons is karma.

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