As I get older I am becoming more familiar with the rhythms of the Solar System, the Earth around the sun, the moon around the earth and sun, and the other visible planets. I am no expert, but have learned to find the plane of the ecliptic and more readily find planets. I have learned to tell time by moon as well as the sun.
The last few years I have been frequently checking on both day length and the amount of daily change in day length. One of the more interesting ways to ponder this is to note that every spot on earth gets exactly the same number of hours that the sun is above the horizon over the course of the year. Every place on earth averages a 12 hour day, if you measured from sunrise to sunset and added them all up over the year. At the North and South Poles there is 6 months of day and 6 months of night. At the equator every day is 12 hours from sunrise to sunset. It then follows that at 45 degrees north and south the longest day would be 16 hours and the shortest 8, give or take a few seconds as the world is not a perfect sphere.
Providence is at approximately 41 degrees North and has a shortest day length of 9 hours and 8 minutes and a longest day length of 14 hours and 52 minutes. At the solstices day length changes by less then a second, 3 seconds the day before and after, 5 seconds the day before or after that, rising to 2 minutes and 48 seconds at the equinox and the days surrounding it. For comparison I looked at the change in day length in Barrow Alaska in northern Alaska, and at the equinox day length was changing by 6 minutes and 47 seconds each day.
Makes sense as if day length is going to go from 1 hour to 23 hours in the same amount of time as day length in Providence goes from 9 hours to 15 the change each day is going to be much larger at the equinoxes than it is here, remembering that at the solstices everybody has a length change of zero.
One great thing about this is you only have to learn the numbers once. They never change. Next year, 15 years from now, 15000 years ago, day length at the winter solstice in Providence or what was the land upon which Providence was later planted was and will continue to be 9 hours and 8 minutes. There are things that can change our relationship to the sun, but other than putting a motor on the planet and rocketing it to another part of the solar system, none of them can be changed by people.
I wish the same could be said about the climate. But clearly what we people have done is set the world on fire. It is not going to be pretty, but there is much we can do to ameliorate the situation if we decide to. I hope that learning about the sun, the planets, the moon, the tides, and closer to home the living world, will help us think more clearly about climate and what would be good courses of action. I hope learning to look at the world, to observe, to measure, to analyze, but also to dream and imagine based on what we see will help us be more prepared for the coming storm.
Today the day length in Providence is 9 hours and 8 minutes, but tomorrow it will be 9 hours and 9 minutes, and it will be more than 20 seconds longer than the day before. Summer is coming.