How to Win A Nobel Prize

Samain                                  Moon of the Winter Solstice

Perhaps my favorite photograph out of the way too many we took, maybe a couple thousand, digital allows profligacy, is this one.  I took it at the command center for the 4 meter telescope at Cerro Tololo, the one which Brain Schmidt used, with two others, to prove the universe is not only expanding, but accelerating, an achievement for which the three together won a 2011 Nobel Prize.  Polite, too.

Oh. Yeah.

Samain                           Moon of the Winter Solstice

We have entered my favorite season of the year, the slow slide toward the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  Cue Robert Frost.

(Dandelions at Lapatia Bay, Kate)

In Ushuaia the sun did not set until 9:30 pm.  Here it sets at 4:30.  As we traveled south along the west coast of South America, the days grew longer and longer.  The evening I went into Ushuaia to have supper, it was 8:00 pm and still quite light.  People strolled the streets, window shopping, holding hands, glancing here and there at other walkers.

They’re headed for a date with December 21st as well, but for them it will be the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.  I knew this intellectually, but it was the little things, like taking pictures of the dandelions at Lapatia Bay, the southernmost harbor of Tierra del Fuego, that pressed its reality into my experience.  Let’s see.  Dandelions here.  Leafless trees at home.  Spring.  Autumn.  Oh. Yeah.


A Year of Two Springs

Fall                                                  Full Autumn Moon

A cool rain and a chilly fall evening with wet gold stuck to the bricks and asphalt, a low cloud cover and darkening twilight skies.

Though ready to travel there is a sadness in missing the rest of fall, the transition from this still part summer, part cooler season time to the bleaker, barren time of November.  It is a favorite season, the continuing turn toward the Winter Solstice.

We will leave it behind, first for the warmer, much warmer Western Caribbean, then sweaty Panama and hot Ecuador.  As we move south, we move into spring with milder temperatures, then, in southern Chile among the fjords and glaciers and around Cape Horn, the southern equivalent of the far north, where temperatures will be cooler.  So, for us, 2011 will be a year of two springs.

And, a shortened fall.

Meanwhile, Mark in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia faces 97 as a typical daytime high.  Gotta wonder what global warming has in store for the desert kingdom.  Sort of the old petrocarbons coming home to roost.