Whilst the morning promised better weather it failed initially, admittedley from elsewhere!! I'd earmarked the occasion of "post dawn" as one where I'd watch the occasion of the Winter Solstice which was being streamed via the Web from Newgrange, County Meath in Ireland. Sadly cloud cover spoiled things so I abandoned such plans around 0915hours!!
The Winter Solstice, representing the commencement of the new Solar year, is an occasion that might best be described as Nature's rebirth or confirmation of a new begining as far as our diurnal calendar is concerned. Pagan, naturalistic thinking, well, maybe, but nonetheless a point of major change. We can consider the tilt of the Earth, distance from the Sun, all that, but it still represents a turning point for us all, and one of doubtless importance too, as our days get gradually longer and we move inexorably toward better conditions.
You know Newgrange was built 5000years ago ( yes,in 3000BC before both the Pyramids and Stonehenge! ). Take a look at the web site (www.knowth.com ) where you can read all the details but , also, download pictures of the extraordinary celebration of the longest night of the year ending and see the narrow rays of the Sun gradually streaming down the 19m. long passageway into the main chamber. To think that ,all that time ago, sufficient expertise existed which allowed the builders of this huge burial chamber to incorporate a "window" above the entrance which, at dawn after the longest night of the year, captures the rays of the rising Sun and allows them to "progress" along the passageway. If only they'd been around when we built the Channel Tunnel, costs could have been astronomically lower.......sorry , couldn't resist!!
Well, it wasn't to be this year, which is a great pity as it would have been an apt introduction for the Year of Astronomy, 2009, so I've already made a diary note for December next year.
After all that did some BTO WeBS counts, which didn't produce any surprises and then, more predictably, the weather closed in!!