Happy Solstice !

Happy summer solstice !

Here’s kind of a fun difference in Alabama and Minnesota. Today we will have about 2 hours more useable daylight than Birmingham. We actually have only about an hour and fifteen minutes more time between official sunrise and sunset but our sunrise starts earlier and our sunset lasts longer. It’s only actually dark for about 3 hrs (11:38p – 2:50a) here while Birmingham gets a bit over 6 hrs of darkness (9:43p – 3:53a).

Our dark period, Astronomical Twilight, is also lighter because we get more indirect light bounce over the north pole, especially when there’s cloud cover over Canada. It’s not unusual for people to play sports at 2a without the need of lights. Technically this shouldn’t be because during astronomical twilight you are not supposed to be able to distinguish the horizon on a moonless night yet we know that even in the Boundary Waters Wilderness on a moonless night that you can see the horizon quite clearly all night long in late June and early July. Weather and astronomy folks say that this is because it is officially when the sun is 18° below the horizon but doesn’t account for the bounce over the north pole that affects places like Canada and the far north U.S.

For fun I included St Andrews Scotland where our son and daughter-in-law lived for 4 years and where it’s quite light all night long for a few weeks. Note the ‘Sun does not set’ bit in the chart for St Andrews.

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One of our favorite times in all of our travels was when we visited my wife’s cousins, Maria, her husband Michael, daughters Signe and Elsa and Maria’s mom Inga in Dala-Järna, Sweden. After an amazing entré of scrumptious pickled herring and gravlax (4 kinds made by Inga), dinner, dessert (Swedes really like dessert) and after dinner drinks, about 11p Micheal looks up and says, in what has become the most oft quoted verbiage in all of our travels, “So, do you want to go to bed or go for a bike tour?”. The photo above of Me and Michael was taken by my son about midnight on July 18, almost a month after the longest day.

Birmingham, AL:


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St Paul, MN:

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St Andrews, Scotland:

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The Long Dark Winter

Then there’s this. Our winter days are over an hour shorter than Birmingham (and St Andrews 2 hours shorter yet and Dala-Järna about 90 minutes shorter than that). I do enjoy the different seasons and the days getting shorter and then longer. I’m told some people don’t enjoy it quite so much. 🙂

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Our winter days are also not quite as bright. From a photography standpoint a photo taken at noon in St Paul is about 2/3 stop darker than one taken at noon in Birmingham.


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St Paul:

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St Andrews:

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Happy Summer!