Winter Solstice – One long night
Well, hope every one in the Northern Hemisphere feels like they had a good night’s sleep. Certainly couldn’t complain about the sun keeping us up all night could we?
December 21st marks the point when the tilt of the earth’s axis moves the North Pole furthest distance away from the sun. For those in Northern Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia, Iceland, Greenland and others, who share the pleasures of the far North, today brings them the opposite of “the land of the midnight sun”, one very long night. For us here in southern Ontario, sunrise will occur at about 7:30 AM (07:30) with sunset occurring only 9 hours later at about 4:30PM (16:30). So with 9 hours of sunlight and 15 hours of darkness, should we of southern Ontario complain. Certainly can, but it won’t do any good :-).
I lived many years in Western Canada and for the residents of Winnipeg, the number of daylight hours on December 21 drops to about 8 hours. Head farther north to Edmonton and the daylight hours number only 7.5 hours. Heading even further north to locations like Whitehorse, Yukon or Yellowknife, NWT yields even less daylight at about 5.5 hours and 5 hours respectively. Travel even further north to Tuktoyuktuk and it is tough to brush your teeth, comb your hair, and say Tuktoyuktuk a few times before sunrise (a mere lightening of the sky) has changed to sunset and a return to darkness save for the light of the moon or the Northern lights if someone remembered to turn them on!.
Meanwhile, down in Mexico, tourists and those of Mayan ancestry will be considering December 21, 2011 as the start of the last year until the end of the earth. According to some, the Mayan calendar, known as the long calendar, comes to an end on December 21, 2012 and with it comes the end of the earth. Others see that date not as the end but as a time for a new beginning. Regardless of whether the world will be coming to an end or simply continuing on to a new beginning, one thing is for certain, there will likely be a larger than usual number of tourists visiting Chichen-Itza and the sites of the other Mayan ruins one year from now!
For those interested in seeing more photos of the ruins at Chichen-Itza and Coba, please enjoy your visits to the applicable blog entries by clicking on the map images below and have fun in 2012 but don’t lose your heads over the end of the Mayan calendar!