Winter Solstice, 2011

Looking southeast toward downtown Phoenix precisely at 10:30 p.m.

The Winter Solstice arrived tonight at 10:30 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The temperature is 48 F.  The air is calm and the sky clear with the constellation Orion high in the southeast.  Sunset was at 5:23 p.m.  It is a dark night, the moon not rising until 4:08 tomorrow morning.

So winter is here, the shortest day of the year and the longest night behind us.  Daylight tomorrow will increase by roughly two minutes with sunrise at 7:28 and sunset at 5:24.  The sun begins what seems its voyage north.  In the Southern Hemisphere, in Brazil for example, summer began.

The first 21 days in December have been cooler than usual in Phoenix and fairly wet.  No freeze yet, the low reaching 33 F.  Rainfall of 1.35 inches fell at the house so far this month, the most coming on the 12th with 6/10 of an inch.  To everyone a Happy Solstice.  It’s an optimistic moment, it seems to me.  The Return of the Sun has inched off the starting line.

This marks the third straight year I’ve recorded Winter Solstice weather conditions.  For what purpose I have no idea, other than to keep a wintry mind from freezing over.  This year’s Solstice came 5 hours and 52 minutes later than the one in 2010.  And the 2010 was 5:51 later than the one in 2009.  Without looking up the 2012 Winter Solstice, I figure it will come in at 5:53 later, or at 4:23 a.m. See, isn’t this fun?  The skies have varied from clear (tonight), to partly cloudy (2009) and all-the-way cloudy (2010).  All the solstices have been mild, with daytime highs in the 60s.  I feel I’m on the way to becoming a Solstice-guy.

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