Monday, June 21, 2010

The Shortest Day of the Year

Today, 21st of June, is the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere.
Sunrise is at 7:00 am.
Sunset is at 4:53 pm.
Day length will be 9h 53m 36s.
The meteorological winter has been with us for three weeks however. In Australia the seasons are taken to start at the beginning of the month so winter begins on 1st June and spans June, July and August. Supposedly, this is because in the early days of the Colony the NSW Corps changed from their summer to their winter uniforms at the beginning of the month.
There is often some confusion about the seasons as there is also an astronomical winter. That is from the winter solstice, 21st June, until the spring equinox, 23 September. This astronomical definition comes about as the winter solstice is the day when the Sun is at its furthest north, is at its lowest in the sky and the length of daylight is the shortest in the year.
In some countries the astronomical definition of winter is more prominent than in Australia but US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also prefers to use the meteorological definition of the seasons so winter the USA is from the beginning of December through January to the end of February.

So what is winter to us? Average maximum temperatures are around 17deg C (64 deg F) and minimum 9 deg C (48 deg F) so it's not really cold and rainfall is usually at its annual lows. So we still get to go down the beach for a sit in the sun and a read on our favourite bench most days. There are some hardy souls still swimming and the surfers are wearing wetsuits. We start fires around the middle of May and finish with them sometime in September. We may have them going 24/7 for a few weeks in July. This is a time when the south westerly winds blow off the snow on the mountains around 200km from us as the crow flies and the wind chill factor comes into play. We can also have half a dozen frosty mornings.
Firewood is easy to come by either by cutting up fallen trees on the property (there are always a few every year ) or easier by getting a delivery from one of our neighbours who trades in this commodity. The local hardwood eucalyptus burns slow and hot.
One downside of winter is that our native pasture stops growing so the cows need feeding with supplemental hay for a few months. Luckily this year I was able to do a good deal for the 40 bales I will need.
We really enjoy our winter. Plenty of sunshine, very few tourists around and a time to get plenty of farm work done in reasonable comfort.

1 comment:

Karen said...

I would enjoy your winter... what wonderful temps! No wonder you freeze when you visit here during the winter months.... Em is already depressed because we are on the downhill slide and the days are getting shorter. I'll have to fill him in on the info you posted... I know he'll be interested! Enjoy your nice, warm winter!