New Moon: Earth Rotation and Seasons
This is the last New Moon before the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the corresponding Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere. Have you ever been to a planetarium or seen a presentation of our Earth’s voyage around the sun? That bit about the tilt of the planet and it’s axis and how that determines how we experience the seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres has always been intriguing to me. I recently visited the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and enjoyed their planetarium show. If I understood the information correctly, the Earth stays approximately the same distance from the sun year-around, but the tilt shifts. So there are two distinct motions; one of the Earth traveling in it’s orbit around the sun and the other of the Earth’s rotation on it’s axis. The Earth’s rotation eastward into the sun determines day and night. The shift in tilt determines the seasonal changes. I think this simplistic generalization is correct but, I admit this gets hazy for me.
However, I do track the seasons rather closely, as the Sun is perceived from our vantage point to travel on it’s journey back and forth, rhythmically, north to south, south to north. I have always been aware of where I was geographically on the planet, in regard to latitude and longitude. I used to be a land surveyor draftsperson, back in the old days before computers did it all. I studied the history of surveying and how the act of overlaying the landmasses and oceans with a coordinated measuring system actually took imaginative possession of the areas, even if the actual occupation of the land came later and was a lot more complicated and generally violent.
So where I reside is at 38 degrees 34 minutes 54 seconds North latitude and 121 degrees 29 minutes 35 seconds West longitude from Greenwich, England, which happens to be designated 00 degrees latitude and 00 degrees longitude. See what I mean about the importance of the history and paradigm of land surveying? Much of the conflict in the world is fought over how and where those lines are drawn and by whom.
Here in Sacramento, California it is 103 degrees, forecasted to go to 109 today! No wonder I’m contemplating the extremes of summer and winter and the Earth’s tilt! The northern hemisphere’s summer solstice is approximately 10 days away; our longest day of the year and the official beginning of northern hemisphere’s summer. It is one end of the extreme; the winter solstice being the other.
Perhaps it is a useful contemplation in terms of our general hypothesis that ‘holding the tension of the opposites is a resilience strategy’ to think about the extremes of summer and winter. Carl Jung and many other teachers have suggested the path to balance is through holding the tension of the opposites. I know that I’m both ‘blessed and cursed’ with an expansive, inquisitive mind that loves to see things from many angles. I have learned that a good resilience strategy for me is to add a healthy portion of history to ground my contemplations. It acts as a fulcrum for mental balance. The sense of time, be it historic, geologic or imaginative, can add the third element of depth to these explorations.
All these musings on an unusually hot June afternoon are an exercise in trying to hold my extremes. At the local level our cucumbers are flowering, the heirloom tomatoes love the heat and I’ve got the house closed up to preserve the morning’s coolness. One the planetary level, viewing from space, the tilt favors the northern reaches, which are approaching maximum sun drenching. Both are true, it just depends on where you are standing and your viewing perspective. What is your latitude and longitude today as the moon is new?