Darkness

2007-12-21 03:03:57.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Moonlight captured by our webcams

A dark time has fallen upon the summit staff of Mount Washington. But worry not; it has nothing to do with death, instrument lost, or anything else devastating. Instead, I am referring to the length of our nights. As the winter solstice approaches Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 1:08 A.M. EST marking the first “day” of winter, the nights are stretching out to the longest amounts of the year. So that means that nights around this date last for 14 hours and 57 minutes on the summit. With nights this long, this means that my shift starts at 5:30 pm in darkness and ends at 5:30 am in darkness. I don’t see a single sunshine minute regardless of foggy or clear conditions.

But with nights like tonight, it is hard to complain. The winds are less than 10 mph with 7 inches of new snow making for some drifts of 4 feet or more and a base of 15” over the entire summit. Moonlight is shining bright on an almost complete undercast and bathing surrounding peaks in a soft white glow. With the generators off, the sound of silence is deafening. A rarity in winter to say the least and a moment I wouldn’t trade for all the sunlight in the world. Hello darkness my old friend…

And now for some random facts:
-Christmas Eve (December 24, 2007) is a full moon.
-You can tell if a moon is moving towards a full moon or a new moon based on its shape. If you can form a “D” with the lit part, it is dilating towards a full moon. If you can form a “C” with the lit part it is constricting towards a new moon. (Sorry about the pics, it is hard to photograph the moon with my digital camera)
-The latest sunrise and earliest sunsets do not actually occur on the night of the solstice. The earliest sunset occurred on December 8 this year and the latest sunrise will occur on January 5, 2008 according to the calculations I did for sunrise and sunset.
-The full moon for December is called the “Long Night Moon.”

 

Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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