As you may well have gathered by now, I’m fond of rituals, especially at the holidays. As this year draws to a close and the new one is about to begin, some of my rituals take on a more practical aspect. Currently, the one that’s holding most of my attention is my yearly gathering of sun and moon data for the year that’s about to begin.I get this information from the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Their data calculators will compute a year’s worth of data for you, spitting out tables of sun and moonrise and set, civil twilight, and daily light and darkness for anyplace in the world, either by naming a U.S. city, or entering latitude and longitude. The information is easily cut and pasted for printing. If one has trouble, the site includes instructions for creating better output.
I make up charts for Haines and for the homestead, which is a few minutes east and south of Haines, enough to make a difference of a couple minutes of daylight at this time of year. I print these charts and keep them in our “weather kiosk,” a wooden letter holder that is in the window near my seat at the table. It also holds our tide books, weather predicting pamphlets, and the weather radio. Throughout the year I consult these charts for various reasons, often just for fun. It’s handy for all of our outdoor activities. We need to adjust the times a bit for our specific location, but it provides enough raw data to be useful.
The site offers more information as well, including local information for solar and lunar eclipses. I’ve just learned that there will be a full lunar eclipse across midnight on December 20 and 21st 2010. Hope that’s a clear night here!