Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 June Solstice

The 2019 June Solstice arrived in New Zealand at 3:54am this morning. That means that today was the shortest day of the year, and we being the long march back toward summer—woot! Despite the fact that winter’s been pretty mild so far this year, summer still can’t come soon enough because the worst is yet to come.

The graphic up top is a screenshot of my Google main page yesterday, and hovering the mouse over the graphic revealed the “Happy Winter 2019!” wish. It was put there yesterday to acknowledge the solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere, which would be later that night/the next morning (depending on your point of view) here in New Zealand. Clicking on the graphic went to this:

As I always say when a solstice or equinox arrives, it has little meaning in this part of the world. That’s because we always say our seasons begin on the first of the month. So, in this case, winter began this year on June 1, 2019. The problem, though, is that the first three weeks if June aren’t necessarily very wintry, and, in fact, the worst, coldest weather can being in July or August. This is similar to how some of our best summery weather happens early in our autumn, which begins March 1.

Today we had the second astronomical event for this year, after the March Equinox, which I didn’t write about because we were all focused on the terrorist attack a few days earlier. Clearly, the Equinox just wasn’t important.

Nevertheless, time and the seasons continue on, and here were are at another astronomical event, with two more yet this year, as listed by TimeAndDate.com:
  • September Equinox: 7:50pm NZST on September 23, 2019
  • December Solstice: 5:19pm NZDT on December 22, 2019
Astute readers will note that I use the month the event occurs in to describe them. That’s because the season that begins here is the opposite of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. So, when people in the North refer to the “Vernal Equinox”, it’s the wrong season for us—it’s our Autumnal Equinox. That difference can be very confusing when we read such a reference without context, and that’s true for people in both hemispheres. It’s much simpler and clearer to refer to “March Equinox, June Solstice, September Equinox, and December Solstice than to mention the seasons. And that’s why I do that all the time now.

Whatever you call what happened today, and whenever you say a season begins, it’s winter here (and summer in the Northern Hemisphere). We all know that the seasons will change, continuing the dance they’ve done for millennia, the two hemispheres always separated by six months and all the differences that means.

Personally, I’ll be more excited about the midpoint of winter next month, because it’ll mean that we’ll be halfway through the long march back toward summer. Summer can’t come soon enough. Because.

Related: My 2016 YouTube video about seasonal change and New Zealand:

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