Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Second Look--December 4, 2013 and I Was Wondering

Believe it or not, I have been doing a Second Look very consistently for 2 1/2 years. I say believe it or not because actually, I'm the one who's having a hard time believing it. Every week, I have been exploring my yard and reporting about it here on Wednesdays. I have watched the flowers bloom, the seasons change, and the critters fly and scurry about. However, on these cold dark days, I feel like I'm ready for a change. So while I will continue to do my Second Looks, they may not happen every week. Some weeks I will do a "I Was Wondering Post" instead. This week, I am going to do both.

I Was Wondering

What's the difference between Meteorological Winter and Astronomical Winter?

These icy trees didn't wait for astronomical winter.
Winter has been very much on my mind recently as the temperatures continue to drop and snow has made an appearance. Every day the weather people talk about freezing, snowing, and occasionally sunshine. And they have talked about Meteorological Winter and Astronomical Winter. Some how I made it to the ripe old age of Getting Old without even realizing that there was a difference. So, what is the difference between the two?

After a little reading, I figured out that it's easy to explain meteorological winter. It's the coldest three months of the year--December, January, and February. However, astronomical winter is a little more complicated. The beginning of astronomical winter has to do with the with the tilt of the earth's axis and the earth's orbit around the sun. It is best explained by pictures or a simple video that you can see here, but basically it is when sun strikes the earth at a minimum angle. This is also known as Winter Solstice and this year will be on December 21. Astronomical winter continues until the Spring Equinox which will be March 20, 2014.
So now I know.

(Obviously, this discussion is for the Northern Hemisphere. I'm a little jealous of those of you who are starting summer right now Down Under.)

A Second Look

Here are some things I saw this week during a Second Look.

Even though we have had plenty of days in the 20's, we have a few pansies still blooming.

However, many of the pansies look like this. Something has made a snack out of them.

Maybe it was these deer that enjoyed the pansies.

I think the groundhogs have begun their winter hibernation because I haven't seen any activity around this hole recently.

The leaves are all gone from the trees which makes it easier to see the birds in them. See the cardinal?