Odds and ends again!

By Phil Plait | June 21, 2007 10:38 am

1) The Shuttle was supposed to land today, but bad weather in Florida has postponed it. The next chance is Friday at 2:18 Eastern time.

2) At 11:06 Mountain time (18:06 UT) the center of the Sun’s disk was at the intersection on the sky of the celestial equator and the ecliptic. the northernmost apex of its annual path along the ecliptic. In other words, it was the summer solstice! Some people call this the first day of summer, but I don’t. Update: AAAARRRRGGGG! That’s what I get for writing quickly with no coffee in me. I originally described the equinox, not the solstice. Criminy. Happily, commenter Joe pointed this out.

3) I sat in the Colorado DMV for two hours today waiting to get my license. The people were very pleasant, but I am only now getting my morning coffee at 12:30, so I’m tired. If there are any more odds or any more ends, they’ll have to wait.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, NASA

Comments (18)

  1. Ed Myers

    Anytime near noon is a bad time to go to the DMV here in Boulder. So are mornings. Come to think of it…so are afternoons…siiiighhhhh……

  2. Ray M

    Couldn’t agree more about the “first day of winter/spring/summer/autumn” thing. My logic works precisely the same way yours does. “Midsummer” and “midwinter” seem logical, but having “summer” begin on the same day as “Midsummer” is just plain wrong :-)

  3. PK

    I used to make an appointment for the DMV in Pasadena/Santa Monica. Just cruised past the long long lines…

  4. Joe

    “At 11:06 Mountain time (18:06 UT) the center of the Sun’s disk was at the intersection on the sky of the celestial equator and the ecliptic.”

    Isn’t that the equinox, not the solstice?

  5. aiabx

    Many people up here in Canada measure summer from the Victoria Day (or May 2-4*) weekend until the Labour Day weekend, with a sort of after summer until Thanksgiving, when the cottages get closed.

    (* is 2-4 slang for a case of beer down there?)

  6. Speaker of the Dead

    Ah, see the perfect example of Florida stupidity? Want to see information about the shuttle landing locally?
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/orl-shuttle2007jun20,0,6251254.story
    THAT’S the very latest. I just figured that they didn’t know (otherwise, I’d go search NASA until I found something) because NASA was trying to keep it quiet (terrorists?) but, no obviously, they just don’t care. They don’t bother educating the masses about something as relevant as the shuttle landing so go on and guess how important teaching science or math is in the schools here. Typical.

  7. Sergeant Zim

    BA, on the morning coffee – - -

    You do know, don’t you, that coffee is one of the 4 REAL food groups?

    Coffee (includes Mt Dew, Coke, Tea, any caffinated drink)
    Cookies (includes snickers, doughnuts, etc)
    Beer (includes wine, Smirnoff, Jell-oshots, etc)
    Pizza (includes burgers, hot dogs, etc.)

    Chocolate is not a food group, chocolate is a vitamin

  8. GFX

    I am sure the leftist moonats who also comment will blame this on Presiedent Bush also.

  9. dc

    So that would be at 12:06 MDT

  10. Cindy

    Only 2 hours @ the DMV? NJ is worse. Took me almost 4 hours in 99 and locals said it used to take 8 hours. They have gotten much better – you don’t have to stand in 5 different lines now.

  11. bad Jim

    B.A., perhaps you should lforget astronomy and just write about politics :-P

    (Well, somebody had to say it!)

    A traditional British system in which the seasons are centered on the equinoxes and solstices has them begin on the “cross-quarter” days: Imbolc (Groundhog Day), Beltane (May Day), Lammas (August 1) and Samhain (Halloween).

  12. Peter B

    Once again, discrimination against us Southern Hemispherians – er – Hemispherics – argh! – those of us who live below the Equator!

    It’s the WINTER solstice today!

    (And winter starts on 1 June.)

  13. Sergeant Zim Says: “You do know, don’t you, that coffee is one of the 4 REAL food groups?

    Coffee (includes Mt Dew, Coke, Tea, any caffinated drink)
    Cookies (includes snickers, doughnuts, etc)
    Beer (includes wine, Smirnoff, Jell-oshots, etc)
    Pizza (includes burgers, hot dogs, etc.)
    Chocolate is not a food group, chocolate is a vitamin”

    No, no, no. You got it backwards.

    The four basic food groups are sugar, salt, fat and caffine. Really! Just ask the snack food industry. Chocolate, you’ll notice, contains all four, making it the perfect food.

    - Jack

  14. Buzz Parsec

    Climaticly, the British system might make sense there, but it sure doesn’t in
    North America, where August is the hottest month and February the coldest.
    Groundhog day never made the slightest sense to me. Winter never ends on Feb 2. March 2, maybe. My sister-in-law tells me that in Aussie, winter is June, July and August, and so on. This matches the climate better (or would if turned upside down for the northern hemisphere, but the months are, astronomicly speaking, arbitrary. Summer isn’t quite June 21-Sept 21, but that’s a lot closer than May 1-Aug 1. June 15-Sept 15 is pretty close, and only a week off from the solstice-to-equinox definition.

    Chocolate – Nature’s perfect food!

  15. Ruth

    Either you call seasons on the weather, or what the plants and animals in your back yard are doing, in which case it’s different depending on where you are and it varies from year to year, OR if you want a standard fixed set of dates and 4 seasons of equal length then BA is right. So, Happy Midsummer/Midwinter everybody!

  16. John Krehbiel

    I agree, with some reservations, that the seasons’ beginning and ending dates could be revised, but why ignore weather? Isn’t the main difference, to most people, between summer and winter the weather?

    I understand, of course, that the angle if incidence of sunlight determines the weather change, but there is a lag. The hottest days of summer are in July and early August (at least where I live).

    What about one month before and two months after (the solstices and equinoxes, I mean)?

  17. Cometkazie

    Your time for the solstice is off by an hour. 1806UT coverts to 1206MDT unless you get an adjustment for elevation!
    That’s not bad. Our local TV weather guru had the day wrong and said at the winter solstice, “The nights will start getting longer.”
    We have four seasons here in the Lower Wetlands: Football season, Mardi Gras, crawfish season, and waiting for football season.

  18. StevoR

    In Australia, we have two seasons : Cricket & Football … ;-)

    Well okay technically :

    June-July-August = winter
    Sept- Oct-November = spring
    Dec–Jan-Feb = Summer
    &
    March-April-May = Autumn (‘Fall’ for you spelling challenged Northerners!)

    At least that’s how it is in Adelaide & the Southern states, up north theyjust have Wet /Dry seasons.

    Thesemaybe totally illogiocal, there maybe better more reasonable ways of judging things -but that’s what we got fols &trying to argue it is like telling everyone Friday is really Sunday and vice-versa .. On this one convention is likely towin until things really, really change.

    Personally, it would make sense to have four orbitally determined holidays common toeveryoen- equinox, (twice) perihelion (Earth nearest Sun in itsveryslightly eccentric orbit) & aperihelion (spelling?) when Earth’s furthest point from the Sun …

    … But the chances of that sort of logical, scientifically derived, egalitarian system coming into use anytime soon :

    0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 %

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