First Day of Winter 2017

Q: Next year, my husband and I will celebrate our 58th loved-one’s birthday. For 57 years, we also have celebrated our anniversary on June 21, the very first day of summer along with the longest day of 4 seasons. I have kept calendars going back 25 years or even more, additionally, on all of these calendars, June 21 is listed as the very first day of summer 2016 and . So why do most of my new 2016 calendars list day one of summer as June 20? Whose bright idea maybe it was to change this date of course these years? The first day of spring, fall and winter are the same.

Clifford and Judy Gruner, of Highland

A: Dare I risk ruining a half-century of marital contentment by suggesting that you simply two lovebirds happen to be laboring under the misunderstanding that June 21 always heralds the start of summer?

Well, hoping you agree that ignorance is seldom bliss, permit me to put it for your requirements straight: Because of our not very good calendar, summer will start not only on June 21 but June 20 and in many cases June 22. During your own marriage, summer in St. Louis arrived on June 20 seven times. But due to system of their time zones we use on our world, you just didn’t know it. Let me make an effort to explain:

The biggest problem may be that you just think planet earth makes a complete orbit across the sun every 365 days. So, you figure, should the planet is in a certain part of that orbit today, will probably be at that same point at precisely the same time on Dec. 26, 2016. Therefore, the summertime solstice ought to be at the exact time every year. What could be simpler than that?

In reality, it’s not really that simple in any respect. It actually takes the Earth about 365 1/4 days to orbit the sun’s rays — or, as “Star Trek’s” Mr. Spock would inform you, 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 48 seconds to get exact. So it requires nearly one more six hours to arrive at the identical point in our orbit from year to year. As a result, summer time solstice gets pushed back about six hours yearly, too.

Of course, Pope Gregory XIII aimed to correct because of this with his new calendar in 1582 by building one extra leap day nearly every four years. By doing this, we at the least keep the timing of the summertime solstice inside of a reasonably narrow timeframe rather than watching it drift to some date earlier and earlier in June since it had beneath the old calendar created by Roman emperor Julius Caesar. Still, even our calendar is poor at taking our odd orbital time into mind. Therefore, as a result constant fudging to create the calendar trust Mother Nature, the start of summer still can fall in just a three-day window.

Solstice, mind you, combines the Latin words “sol” for “sun” and “sistere,” meaning “to come into a stop or stand still.” At the time of the summertime solstice, sunshine reaches its northernmost position as seen in the Earth. At that moment, this doesn’t move north or south mainly because it would on just about every other day of 4 seasons but stands still before it begins to decline towards the south again. The opposite occurs in the winter solstice.

As you note, this usually happens on June 21. In 2013, St. Louisans greeted the arrival of summer just past midnight — 12:05 a.m. In 2014, it had been 5:52 a.m. — or nearly six hours later, as I brought up earlier. This year, it had been later again by about six hours —11:39 a.m.

Following this pattern, you’d expect  the winter solstice in 2016 to happen about 6 p.m. on June 21. But do you know what? It’s a leap year, so they’re throwing an added 24 hours into 12 months. In return, the solstice gets shoved back a complete day — to five:35 p.m. on June 20. Even in 2017, summer will begin here at 11:25 p.m. on June 20 before moving back in June 21 for 2018 and 2019.

The solstice occurring on June 20 hasn’t been as rare on your marriage as you have visit believe. Since 1988, they have occurred on June 20 during every leap year — seven times in most.

So why have all your calendars told you it absolutely was June 21? Simple — it’s due to the difference over time zones. Remember that the summertime solstice occurs with the exact same moment for everybody on Earth whether it’s midday where they’re or the dead of night. But the calendar you cling on the wall can’t take every local time zone note, so that it uses UTC (the coordinated universal time), that’s similar to Greenwich (England) Mean Time, as the standard.

As it happens, UTC is five hours prior to Central Daylight Time in St. Louis, so in the event the summer solstice occurs here anytime after about 7 p.m. on June 20, it’s already June 21 from the UTC region — and that’s your day you’ll find on your own calendar. But I’ll bet should you check your 2012 calendar, you’ll discover that summer going on June 20 because that has been the first time since 1896 how the solstice occurred on June 20 inside UTC zone. Starting next season, you can anticipate it that occur much more regularly — 12 times in the next 34 years, in truth. Conversely, there hasn’t been a summer solstice UTC on June 22 since 1975 nor maybe there is another until 2203. St. Louis hasn’t seen one since 1951.


Not surprisingly, the spring and fall equinoxes as well because first day of winter have similar two- and three-day windows.
Today’s trivia

True or false: The Earth is definitely at its most distant point from sunshine during our torrid summers.

Answer to Friday’s trivia: In 1974, Canadian postal workers seen that letters addressed to Santa were being classified as undeliverable, so, as opposed to disappoint the young writers, employees began answering the letters themselves. Volume soon increased exponentially, prompting Canada Post to put together an official Santa Claus letter-response put in 1983. Now, kids are encouraged to write Santa in care in the North Pole, Canada. St. Nick has even been given his personal personal postal code — H0H 0H0, obviously.

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