Blink and You’ve Missed It

Morning snow

How fitting to have our first snow of the season fall on the Winter Solstice. Well, that answered the question as to whether we would see snow this season or not.

snow dusted Oyster Dome

The Winter Solstice used to be a full day affair. I’d look forward to waking up on the shortest day of the year and knowing when I woke up the next day, that it would be longer, if only by a hair.

But what is the Winter Solstice? For us in the northern hemisphere, it is when the North Pole has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. So it is not an all day affair. This year it happened at 8:20 and 26 seconds Pacific Time the morning of December 21. But the earth is racing around the sun at 29.78 kilometers a second, 18.5 miles a second, (107,208 kilometers and hour; 66,616 miles per hour). At that speed, the winter solstice happens so quickly, you don’t even get a single breath to enjoy it. By the time you clap and celebrate it, it is old news, and the earth has flown far past that point in space where the North Pole had its maximum tilt away from the Sun.

blue skies over the Skagit Valley

It is hard to comprehend the speed at which we are spinning through the universe. You can close your eyes and sit as quietly as possible, but nothing stops you from traveling a great distance in a short time. at 18.5+ miles a second, you’re traveling 1,110 miles a minute, 66,616 miles an hour, 1,598,784 miles a day. And we can never get back to that spot we were just a few moments ago. By the time we make a circle around the sun, the whole solar system has traveled over 7 billion miles. If we could sense even a fraction of these phenomenal speeds it’d be more thrilling than any roller coaster ride.

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