Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
This Day in History
Richard Nixon gives his ‘Checkers’ speech; Rome’s Augustus Caesar born; Lewis and Clark finish trek to America’s West; Psychologist Sigmund Freud dies; Musicians Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen born.
Autumn arrived in the Northern Hemisphere last night at 10:29 PM EDT.
During both the vernal and autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to nearly 12 hours each all over the world.
Instead of a tilt away from or toward the sun, the Earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun during an equinox.
Daylight in the Northern Hemisphere continues to gradually diminish until the winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 21, 2014. The opposite occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, where daylight continues to grow longer.
Druid leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon is preparing to celebrate one of his favorite events of the year at Stonehenge – the autumn equinox.
Arthur, the leader of the druids and self-declared reincarnation of King Arthur, explained the rituals and meaning behind the equinoxes – the lesser known dates in the druid calendar after the summer and winter solstices. [..]
“We’ll be leading the festivities and ceremonies at Stonehenge. English Heritage will allow us in just before dawn and we’ll get into the centre circle, then myself and one of the arch druids will be leading the ceremony in the centre circle.
“After the centre circle I’ll be doing my own ceremony over by the heel stone where we’ll have drummers and pipers and poetry, dance, and so on. One of the things about the Druid tradition is it’s a celebration. What we tend to do at Stonehenge is to celebrate whatever we’ve set up for, which is the turning of the wheel.”
Druids celebrating the equinox have a similar prayer for all major events. They will call to the four quarters to ask for peace: “We’ll say ‘is there peace in the east?’ and the response would be ‘there is peace in the east’. Then we’ll go around to the south, west and north, then we’ll turn inwards and say is there peace or let there be peace throughout the whole world.”
The group will then have a celebration, with poetry, dance and music. In ancient times, the equinox would signify the start of winter. People would begin stocking up on food.
Referring to the equinox as being a time of equal day and night is a convenient oversimplification. For one thing, it treats night as simply the time the sun is beneath the horizon, and completely ignores twilight. If the sun were nothing more than a point of light in the sky, and if the Earth lacked an atmosphere, then at the time of an equinox, the sun would indeed spend one half of its path above the horizon and one half below.
But in reality, atmospheric refraction raises the sun’s disc by more than its own apparent diameter while it is rising or setting. Thus, when the sun looks like a reddish-orange ball just sitting on the horizon, it’s really an optical illusion. It is actually completely below the horizon.
In addition to refraction hastening sunrise and delaying sunset, there is another factor that makes daylight longer than night at an equinox: Sunrise and sunset are defined as the times when the first or last speck of the sun’s upper or lower limbs – not the center of the disc – are visible above the horizon. [..]
Certain astronomical myths die hard. One of these is that the entire Arctic region experiences six months of daylight and six months of darkness. Often, “night” is simply defined by the moment when the sun is beneath the horizon, as if twilight didn’t exist. This fallacy is repeated in innumerable geography textbooks, as well as travel articles and guides.
But twilight illuminates the sky to some extent whenever the sun’s upper rim is less than 18 degrees below the horizon. This marks the limit of astronomical twilight, when the sky is indeed totally dark from horizon to horizon.
Most of us have very mixed feelings about the autumnal equinox. We all understand the way it can (quite literally) darken one’s spirits. That’s especially true in a place like Vermont, where summers are breathtakingly beautiful and dispiritingly short. Everywhere, however, the autumnal equinox reminds us that another summer has past, the natural world is growing quiescent (or dying), and we are older. There is less sunlight. Less warmth. No blueberries.
Soon that ultimate bacchanal of death will be here, Halloween.
And what follows Halloween? The gray morass we call November. That’s usually the month when I finally get around to raking the trillions of leaves that have swooned (starving) to their death in my yard. Some are still phantasmagorically beautiful. All are annoying when they stick to the tines of my rake.
For the next three months, the days will continue to shrink and the nights will grow very, very long. There will be days in the not too distant future when it will feel here in Lincoln that the sun is falling behind the ridgeline to the west a little after lunch.
Have I depressed you enough?
But here’s the strange and wonderful reality that marks this time of the year: It actually feeds the soul’s need to cocoon. To nest. To hunker down after the zeal and sheer busyness of summer. I love those first fires I build in the woodstove – the aroma, the warmth, the luminescent little blaze through the palladium glass windows. I love collapsing on the floor in the den in the waning light of a Sunday afternoon and reading – often with a cat on my back. (Occasionally, as a matter of fact, with a 17-pound cat on my back.) I love the permission that short days and long nights give me to watch DVDs of two-decade old episodes of “Seinfeld.” [..]
The truth is, I really don’t mind the autumn. For the first time in months, we can savor the sluggishness that all of us, once in a while, crave. After all, in a mere 90 days – 13 weeks – the days once more will begin growing longer.