Friday, July 18, 2008

Up In The East, Down In The West

I had someone from Africa staying with me for a couple of years. One fall day, I noticed him looking with some alarm at the setting sun.

“The sun is near the south, setting early,” he said.

“Yeah; we’re heading toward winter. Sets earlier in the winter and more toward the south, later in the summer and more toward the north. What’s new about that?”

“Where I live,” he replied, “we are right on the equator. The sun comes up at six in the morning and sets at six at night. It is dark immediately. It always comes up in the east and sets in the west, without any changes.”

I told him things would be ok; it was not the end of the world. In North America, as far up as we are, the 42nd parallel, it’s a lot different than when you are at the zero point. When you get up even further, above 66.5 degrees north latitude, the sun never sets in the summer, never rises in the winter. Been there; seen it.

I’ve been as far south as 18 degrees north latitude, as far north as 67. I’ve been below sea level and 42,000 feet above it, as well as having sailed over the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean with 24,000 feet of water under me.

But I’ve never had the sun rise and set in the same spot all year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been across the Equator and as far north as 49°, mebbe a tad more and sunsets are never the same. Your brother showed me a sunrise ( he is up before the sun most days)which he clicked in your parking lot. He was surprised at how a sunrise could be so nice in a city, as we are both pretty much country.

I have seen places where people are always present for a sunset, it is a sortof ritual or tradition. Some of you out there might know of Mallory Pt in Key West, another flashy setting I found was in Ipperwash, Ontario on Lake Huron with many folks present for the show. Here in the summer youcanot find a parking space in St. Romuald when the sun sets, especially in the spring and fall when the Québec Bridge plays hide 'n seek with the last rays of the day.

One time I was in a fishing camp north of Chicoutimi in Québec and we all sat around watching the setting, which was about 10:00 PM. It was followed by a spectacle...the showing of the Northern Lights and between the two a pair of loons were seranading each other.

Sure beats a cup of tea on a cruise ship!


July 20, 2008 6:25 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Sure beats a cup of tea on a cruise ship!

I agree. *Then* you have the cup of tea and talk about how great it was.

July 20, 2008 9:44 AM  

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