May 24, 2016 by petrujviljoen
I’ve been recording the sunsets since January, the 7th of this year. Since moving to the countryside, I noticed the point where the sun sets – and rises for that matter – changes from season to season. It took a while to wonder why, still being punch-drunk from the big bad old city. Research revealed the rotation of the earth around the sun travels in an ellipse and not a circle. I didn’t know that. Due east and due west happens only twice a year, on the spring and fall equinoxes.
The cat, oh the cat! I’ve learnt to watch the position of the sun from my house and estimate how long it will take to reach the horizon – it’s not really the way things work is it? Let’s try again: I’ve learnt to watch the position of the sun from my house and estimate how long it will take for the earth to rotate until it seems as if the horizon reaches the sun. Should one be travelling in a vehicle along the road at this time, one could have the privilege of seeing the sunset more than once, travelling round mountain after mountain. It’s been a while since I did this with the moon.
The cat: she thinks she’s the top-cat in this house. I often let her. When I want us to go on a walk, she’d sit around, pretend she’s busy, preen herself, watch the birds and see if I’ll get impatient at which point she’d … it takes too long. So now I pick her up and walk as fast as I can until we’ve passed the few houses and made it round the bend, her moaning and growling to be put down all the while.
There’s a fence (where I’d let her go), that we have to climb through to get to the place where we sit to watch the last few minutes, sometimes ten, sometimes twenty, sometimes half an hour, sometimes longer, of the setting sun. We know now it’s not really the way things work – see above. Just sitting, maybe walk around a little bit to see what’s new, who’s been and wonder about the why of it all or the how of it all which is really the same thing if one thinks about it. One can tell whether it’s been the monkeys, the baboons or the humans. Last mentioned would’ve left garbage (thankfully very seldom); the baboons turn over huge stones to see what’s edible underneath and the monkeys – I can’t always tell about the monkeys. Me? I leave nothing. Only the photo as evidence I’ve been and sometimes not even that.
I sit at the same point to capture the moment of sunset, or as we now know … see above. We, the cat and I, don’t do this every day. Other days we work in the garden or walk at a different time, weather permitting. Inclement weather has us doing other things.
earth’s orbit an ellipsis
See http://solar-center.stanford.edu/AO/sunrise.html for background research.