Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Changing Seasons

My dad would be turning 62 today if he was still alive. I had to check all the dates and timelines and birthdays again with my mom on the phone this evening cause I still have a hard time believing that he was only 59 when he died - though I mentioned that fact when I spoke at his funeral, my mind seems to reject it.

I always associate the summer solstice with Dad's birthday since he was born on June 21st. I actually would normally wait until the radio or TV or friends or co-workers started talking about how it was the start of summer and I would know I should call him to wish him happy birthday.

Yes, Father's Day was Sunday, and his birthday is today, and it does feel like it has been a hard few days. It was harder last year when it all landed on the same day. Another difference this year, June 21st isn't the first day of summer. Everyone was talking about it on Monday, yesterday. I didn't know it moved. So, of course, I looked it up online:

A solstice happens when the sun's zenith is at its furthest point from the equator. On the June solstice, it reaches its northernmost point and the Earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.4 degrees. It's also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June Solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22, depending on which time zone you're in. June 22 Solstices are rare - the last June 22 Solstice in took place in 1975 and there won't be another one until 2203. 

The varying dates of the solstice are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar which has 365 days in a normal year and 366 days in a Leap Year. A tropical year, the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun completely, is ca. 365.242199 days, but varies slightly from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth's axis, also contributes to the changing solstice dates.

I looked at all the summer solstice dates going back almost 50 years and forward more than 30, it usually is June 21st. Besides starting summer on June 20th this year, it always was a full moon, which had everyone quite excited - since it is pretty rare to have these things line up. I didn't notice anything special - just sadness, missing my Dad.

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