“The day of the sun is like the day of a king. It is a promenade in the morning, a sitting on the throne at noon, a pageant in the evening.”
—Wallace Stevens, From his Journal, 1904/1966
Far away as the Sun is from Earth, without it there would likely be no life here. As it is, the Sun greets us in the morning when rising on the eastern horizon. It then seems to travel through the sky from East to West with every degree of Earth’s rotation around its own axis until the Sun sets and eventually disappears under the western horizon.
I shot Rising Sun early in the morning in Beijing when the hustle and bustle outside had woken me up earlier than planned. But had I slept longer, I would have missed this beautiful sight!
“It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is
cheering, the crowd is laughing
William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, 1923
Without the Sun there would be no life on Earth. The Sun is a star, a ball of gases that glows, and the brightest object in our sky. It provides warmth and light, enabling us to live the life we are used to. The Sun divides our days into daytime and nighttime and we use its movements through our sky to calculate days and years.
While from our point of view the Sun is moving through our sky, in reality Earth is moving around the Sun. As Earth does not orbit the Sun in an upright but in a slightly tilted position, one of Earth’s poles is sometimes tilted more toward the Sun during the orbit and sometimes tilted away. This axial tilt determines the path the Sun takes through our sky. At the summer solstice the peak of the Sun’s arc across the sky is the highest and in summer the Sun rises and sets farther north in the northern hemisphere.
This year the northern solstice takes place today on June 21 at 10:07 UTC. The June solstice also marks the first day of astronomical summer though meteorological summer already started on the first of June and the June solstice is more often looked at as midsummer in the northern hemisphere. But either way, let’s enjoy the length of day; from now on we’ll get fewer daylight hours!
Yesterday was one of the few nice spring days we’ve had so far, but it still was a bit crisp. The sky was blue but there were also some clouds. Some cirrus clouds got in front of the sun and brought ice crystals with them. These reflected and refracted the white sunlight splitting it up into its various colors and forming a circular halo around the Sun. A really beautiful sight.