Preparing for Solstice
By Timothy Collins
The last evening of Spring, 2016: The Earth and Sun are approaching a balance of zenith. Solstice, the high point of the celestial season for the sun on the equator, the sunset farthest to the north, is almost here.
After something of a cool spring, the summer heat has arrived in Western Illinois over the past few weeks. A couple of days have already felt like August, even in the morning. The heat feels good sometimes, but it can drain energy and leave you sleepy.
Tonight the lightning bugs are flickering across lawns and fields, reminders of childhood evenings spent in pursuit and capture, placing them in glass jars full of grass, with the futile hope that we could keep them alive. Sparks of yellow luminescence seem everywhere, dozens of flashes at a time, mini bursts of changing patterns of bright dots in the growing darkness. This is spontaneous beauty.
This twilight, we are still in the waxing phase of the moon, not quite full, rising a few minutes before sunset.
Tomorrow is the Solstice: Unusual, depending on how you look at it, the first time since 1967 when the moon has been in its full phase all over the world when the sun reaches its high point at 5:34 pm Central Time on Monday, June 20.
Solstice, 2016. If at all possible, savor the night of the Strawberry Moon. Light a fire. Dance to some music.
Or, take a few minutes to simply appreciate the beginning of the rich fullness of Summer—the end of the longest day and the beginning of the shortest night of the year—wherever you are, by yourself, or with others.
If not this night, then some other time soon. Very soon. Make it a moment to cherish and remember.
It could become a habit.
The intersection of 2000N and 2000E makes a perfect spot to photograph the setting sun in the northwest and the rising, not-quite-full moon in the southeast on the last day of Spring, 2016.