Dat Winter Solstice tho

It’s today. And I’m timing this post to appear on the internet at exactly the same time as the sun begins to light up Cape Town.

Which it is doing like this:

“Several billion trillion tons of superhot exploding hydrogen nuclei rose slowly above the horizon and managed to look small, cold and slightly damp.”

It’s one of my favourite Douglas Adams quotes, and it seems wholly appropriate for the chilly, moist conditions that typify a real Cape winter, and with it, today.

The days get longer from tomorrow, guys. Summertime may be a long way off, but it is on its way.

Shortest Day

It’s the shortest day of the year in Cape Town today.

You’ll have noted that the sun rose at 7:51am and it will set later this evening at 5:45pm. That means that we’re only going to get 9 hours, 53 minutes and 35 seconds of daylight.
Make the most of it. Or choose to slow down a little and use a torch when it gets dark.

Your call.

The official winter solstice is at 12:51pm, three minutes after the solar noon, at which point the sun will be at a distance of 152,023,000km from Cape Town. This also means that it’ll be 152,022,999km away from the top of Devil’s Peak, which conveniently measures 1,000m in height and which is inconveniently casting a curse over the Mother City.
Won’t someone please change the name of that godforsaken lump of rock and save us all?

I digress.

Tomorrow, although the sun will still rise at 7:51am and set at 5:45pm, eagle-eyed readers should notice that the day will be a whole 1 second longer, as we begin our near-unstoppable charge towards summer.

Bring on beers, braais and bikinis on the beach.


Sunset won’t get any earlier

We’re in the grips of midwinter here in Cape Town. It’s hell. Almost, anyway.

But the good news is that the shortening of the days is almost over and we are nearly able to look forward to SUMMER!
This week, the sun has been setting at 17:44, but despite the fact that the shortest day (our winter solstice this year is at 07:04 on Friday, 21 June) is actually still a couple of weeks away, the sunset won’t be getting any earlier now, 17:44 is the earliest it’s going to get this year.

The time of sunset in most major cities around the world used to be calculated by astronomers using complicated algorithms, but for Cape Town these days, a guy in a white coat just pops down to Green Point Promenade and counts the number of Instagrammers, before calling the results back in to HQ.

Because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, the sunrise does continue to get a little later until the end of the month, but by that time we’ve already gained another 4 minutes of light in the evening, so I think that we can basically say that summer is pretty much already here.

Some few facts for you:

Cape Town’s shortest day this year is 21st June, with 9h 53m 35s of daylight.
The longest day will be the 21st December, when the sun will rise at 05:32 and set at 19:57, giving us 14h 25m 03s of daylight. If you really think that you can do a lot more with those 4½ hours of light, you might want to consider using artificial light sources to lengthen the useful time each day during winter.

However, the latest sunset next summer will be on the 3rd January 2014, at 20:01. On this day, the sun will be “just” 147,098,000 km from Cape Town, compared with 152,094,000 km on 5th July 2013.

That’s a difference of about 5 million km. Wow. No wonder it gets warmer.

Data from here.