Here’s more of that ” it’s the real thing ” stuff that makes me go into full geek mode.  Today, just now, as a matter of fact (as I’m writing this, anyway), the Earth just passed the point where the Sun reached it’s most northerly declination.  It’s now officially summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter in the Southern!   If you’re watching at sunset, the Sun will drop below the western horizon further south each day.  If you were on the Tropic of Cancer, at 23.5 degrees North Latitude, the sun would be directly overhead at local noon, but only today and maybe tomorrow.  Depending on how carefully you measured it, you’d see a slight difference starting tomorrow, or Wednesday. It won’t go any further north.  We now begin the long march towards winter.  Each “day” will get shorter from here on out.  Well, the daylight portion will, at any rate.  The day remains 23 hours, 56 minutes and some seconds.  (but that’s another geeky blog some other time!)

“But wait!” you might say…  “aren’t we still weeks away from the hottest time of the year?  The Sun is marching back south…  why isn’t it the hottest right now?”  And in that lies all kinds of science and knowledge and total geekiness!   The quick answer, before your eyes glaze over and your minds turn to mush, is that the oceans and land masses of the planet act as heat sinks, absorbing heat, and then releasing it over time.  There’s a lag in both effects, and that affects the weather patterns and large scale climate.   Here for us locally, the Pacific high that sits in the mid-Pacific Ocean will move north, and deflect storms into Washington and Canada.  Here’s a little climate tidbit for you…  Central and Southern California is one of only five places in the world where the rainy season is in the winter, instead of the summer!  And that’s due to that high pressure system sitting off the west coast, shoving all those summer storms to our north!  Didn’t know you were living in such an uncommon area, did you?

One more thing.  Notice on the chart above, how the Earth is further away from the Sun right now.  That’s not some distortion to show the solstice.  It’s really that way.  The Earth’s orbit is not a circle, it’s more oblong, and the planet is actually several million miles further away from the Sun in our summer than during our winter.  And therein lies more geeky science stuff about angle of  the Sun’s rays and atmospheric absorption working together to make us hotter when we’re further away, and colder when we’re closer.

Science is so much fun!

OK, end of today’s geekiness.  Happy Summer Solstice!  If you are a pagan, you might be having a big party today!  Are the rest of us invited??