20150607 Local sights as we approach Summer Solstice

After breakfast we checked out the bush road across Hwy 69 from my driveway.  These two birdies were a long way away from me but about 50′ from each other, singing alternately.



The Chestnut-sided Warbler is quite common, but Indigo Buntings are rare around here.  For some strange reason the Bunting always appears on the same branch of the same tree.  The only one that I photographed last year was on that branch.  I also photographed one there earlier this year.  One of these days I hope to get a lot closer to one, to do it justice in a photo.

Along Riverside Drive we saw some of the usual start of summer blossoms…

The wind was up, causing this nice rippling backdrop to this cultivar Iris.


Canada Anemone are now out in full bloom.


And the Wild Roses are almost over.




Delicate starflowers are at their prime here now.


As are False Lily-of-the-Valley or another “Mayflower”.


Another “Silvery Blue” I think.


The “Blue Bead Lilies” are also at their prime right now.


As are the bunch berries:


Alas, this Massasauga Rattlesnake had been killed on Riverside Drive.  I think that it coiled with its last energy.  I moved it to the side of the road, where the local broadwinged hawk will probably eat it.

Why conserve a venomous snake?



In two weeks
, on the afternoon (EDT) of June 21st the sun will stop in its noontime rise above  the southern horizon and start going down again.

Solstice:  “The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction.”

At Solstice our noon sun is (our Latitude + 23.4º ) about 69º above the southern horizon.  (46th parallel of North Latitude is just north of the HWY 69  bridge over the Pickerel River.  The 23.4º is the axial tilt of Earth.)

So the sun lingers near this high point for a few weeks having two effects:

1   Beaming solar energy more straight down onto the earth’s surface here resulting in a higher intensity of sunlight/energy.


2   Being visible in the sky for long days (~16 hours of daylight)

These two effects mean that a HUGE portion of the annual energy received at this location comes in during the 30 days centered on June 21st.  (The calculation of that amount of energy is left to Astronomers, Architects, Sundial Designers and other keeners who read this.   There are two integrals involved, one in each of the effects, both Cosine functions integrated over angle and/or time.)

Hence the HUGE change in  life activity during solstice,  since all life activity is energy dependent.

Although solar insolation is greatest at solstice, our average temperature is greater a month or so later due to thermal lag.  This was well studied by a guy named Joseph Fourier.


*These days when it is politically fashionable to trash fundamental science I thought I’d remind us of the legacy that we all enjoy from non-mission oriented science.

Besides when I saw the subtitle I realized that I hadn’t  included much PRATTLE in earlier posts.


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