Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Solstice

So there you have it...a little bit from each of the kids. It's not quite what I expected but makes for humorous reading anyways.

How are you this fine morning? I was awoken before 5 by an almighty racket coming from the ducks and geese in the barn. So I pulled a cardigan over my t-shirt and went out to check. It's a lovely morning and everything smells clean and damp because a very heavy dew settled in the night. We noticed it before going to bed because Steve and I were out looking at the satellites and stars and admiring the shortest night of the year. It wasn't full dark even at 11pm with a tinge of daylight on the northern horizon.

It's amazing how many constellations we've managed to forget over the years. Some stars are easy to find, Arcturus, Polaris and some constellations including Cassiopeia, and the big dipper.

Speaking of Polaris, the North Star. Can you find it? Right there off the end of the big dipper....It's a very useful star in finding North and also estimating your latitude based upon it's height in the sky. But did you know that Polaris has not always been the north star? As the stars move in the sky (Polaris is a fixed star and so moves very very slowly over thousands of years) the star best representing north changes. Did you know that? Vega was the pole star in 12000BC and faint Alrai will be nearer north than Polaris by 3000AD. Here's the wiki link.

While we are travelling we'll get to see 2 meteor showers, the Delta Aquarids and the Perseids. We'll be reaching some nice dark country by the time the Perseids peak on August 12th and 13th but alas, the moon will also be full and so obscure any but the brightest meteors. The perseids are my favourite shower of the year and having it occur in the middle of summer means you can lie out in a field while camping and watch the spectacular show above you. Want to know what's coming up in your sky? Here's a link to EarthSky Definitely worth a poke around.

The summer solstice has come and gone for the year. Midsummer, or the solstice, is approximately half way through the growing season in the northern hemisphere. And there are many religious holidays surrounding this peak of the suns height in the sky, some representing fertility, some the harvest, and some we do not understand though evidence left in places like Stonehenge show us that the ancient peoples were aware of the significant dates of the calendar and marked them accordingly. Weddings and "June" brides were traditional in many countries as was the 'Honey Moon'. Tradition tells us that the first or only full moon in June is the best time to take honey from the hives. And there is some basis of fact in this. Taking honey now gives the bees plenty of time to build reserves to last them through the inevitable winter to come. We never take all the honey. If you did, what are they supposed to eat if the weather turns wet, or conversely hot and dry killing off the flowers? We're supposed to work 'with' the bees and not to just rob them blind. Part of good beekeeping is knowing how to balance your need to take honey out and the bees need to keep honey in for winter.

Well I should be getting the kids lunches made and getting a start on my day. Enjoy yours and remember that even if things don't go well, nobody can make you have a 'bad' day. It's your attitude that counts and you control that 100%.

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