Thursday, September 18, 2008

Darkness and light, day and night, geek heaven

We arrived in Seattle not long after Lammas, and Fall Equinox is now fast approaching. We've been noticing how dramatic the change has been in the number of hours of daylight, and in when the sun rises and sets. So when it seemed awfully dark this morning, I decided to see what the objective data say over at the US Naval Observatory about what time the sun is rising and setting.

And I discovered a couple of neat things! (Such geekdom...)

First was the "Duration of Daylight/Darkness Table for One Year," which lets you request a table for an entire year for any location with the number of hours of daylight (or darkness) on each day. This is on the Data Services page, which has all kinds of cool things -- complete sun and moon data for one day, info on the rise and set of major solar system objects and bright stars, what fraction of the moon is illuminated, positions of celestial bodies, dates of solstices and equinoxes...

I also discovered the Astronomical Information Center, with all sorts of FAQs about the sun, the moon, how time is computed, etc.

One really neat tidbit: have you ever checked how long it was light, and how long it was dark, at Spring or Fall Equinox, and noticed they're not actually equal where you are? Their "Length of Day and Night at Equinoxes" page explains the relationship between this and how far one is from the equator, etc., and whether day or night is slightly longer at the Equinox, depending on where you are.

I realize this is getting too geeky for some, but it all rather delighted me. :)

Have fun!

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