happy winter solstice

Happy winter solstice, friendly neighbors! You might be wondering why I am wishing you a happy first day of winter, which is my least favorite season (i.e. I don’t do winter). I am trying to focus less on the fact that it is now winter and more on the fact that daylight time will now start increasing by about two minutes per day. More daylight time in dreary winter is a very good thing. Bring on the light!

In case you didn’t know how hardcore a science nerd I am, I wanted to share with you how I celebrated the solstice tonight. The Museum of Mathematics hosted a solstice celebration across from the Flatiron Building in the plaza at 23rd Street. Math and science enthusiasts showed up to create a seven-pointed star, live streamed from a camera on the top floor of the Flatiron Building. We all gathered along the lines of a star that was measured with a giant protractor, drawn in chalk on the ground. Here’s the MoMath top math dude dropping some solstice knowledge on the crowd with his giant protractor:

Museum of Mathematics Solstice Stars 2015

Then we held foam glow sticks horizontally so they were touching end-to-end to form the sides of the star. The star looks like this without people:

Museum of Mathematics Solstice Star

Why did the star have seven points? The outer angle of each triangle measured approximately 26 degrees, which is the highest altitude of the Sun in New York City on the winter solstice (at noon). Starting tomorrow, daylight time will gradually increase by about two minutes per day as the Sun’s noon altitude increases a little bit each day, up until the summer solstice. Since the Sun has a longer apparent path to follow during the day, it takes a longer time to do so (as the Earth rotates on its axis 15 degrees per hour, which is the actual motion that makes the Sun appear to move throughout the day), resulting in more daylight time. I cannot. freaking. wait. for more light.

Nerdy enough? Heck yeah it was. Hope your solstice was on point, too!

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