Opinion | At the Solstice, in Praise of Darkness

January 20, 2018

At the Solstice, in Praise of Darkness
https://www.NYTimes.com/2017/12/16/opinion/sunday/solstice-praise-for-darkness.html QT: “Imagine a…movie…[capturing] the position of the setting sun…throughout the yr….[the sun] would migrate…betw its southernmost & northernmost positions on the horizon [&]…slow down toward the extremes.”

“When this cycle was first explained to me as a child, my teacher advised me to imagine the “leaning” Earth as it arcs through its annual orbit around the sun….But such
illustrations, however useful, make it easy to overlook the loveliest aspect of this Thursday: that a solstice is in fact a moment of rest.

What stops at the December solstice is the sun’s apparent southward and night-lengthening (or night-shortening, in the Southern
Hemisphere) march across the sky. The true meaning of “solstice” — indeed, the word’s Latin roots refer to the stilling of the sun — was made clear to me by George Greenstein…He asked me to imagine a continuous movie composed of photographs that capture the position of the setting sun (the rising sun would work equally well) throughout the year.

In this movie…the setting sun would migrate back and forth between its southernmost and northernmost positions on the horizon. The sun would accelerate toward the middle of its journey (around spring and autumn, when the lengths of the day and the night change most quickly) and slow down toward the extremes. Once the sun reached an endpoint, it would at last come to rest — as it will on Thursday — before its motion reversed.