It’s common knowledge that June 20 or 21 (sometimes 22) is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s the date of earliest sunrise and latest sunset, right? Not so quick! Fact is those events occur two weeks apart.
Official sunrise for Palmdale has been parked at its earliest – 5:39 – for the past seventeen days while the sun continued setting half a minute later every evening until today, June 21. This morning the sun finally rose after 5:40, yet the latest sunset still won’t come until some time after the 24th, where it will stay at 8:09 all the way through July 3rd. You got all that?
Nutshell: the ‘period of longest days’ (more than 14 hours and 26 minutes at our latitude) runs from June 11 through the rest of the month. That’s nineteen days during which the time between sunrise and sunset increases and then decreases by mere seconds, peaking today only two minutes longer than June 11 or July 3. During the five very longest days (this week), the actual length differs by about that many seconds — five or so.
And why the offset? Don’t ask me. It has something to do with our polar axis being cockeyed, obviously… I did see a TV weatherman explain it once, and listened really close, but when he finished I still had no idea. That’s why he was a weatherman, not an astronomer.
We’ve had a delightfully coolish spring season this year, and paid for it with below normal thermal activity. That may be about to end. We can expect temps in the high nineties this coming weekend, moderated by westerly wind each day. Don’t expect any shade, though. According to our patron saint Dr. Jack, cumulus cloud base will be so high that if you do see a cloud it’ll be marking very powerful lift indeed!
Believe it or not we’re due for another cooling spell, right through the weekend. That will accompany a solid flow of southerly wind, and perhaps more and better wave than we had all winter. It may not be marked by clouds of any kind, so you need to know where to look (hint: DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL). And there won’t be any complaining about the heat!
SEE YOU SOON!
Finally we have more cross-country soaring flights to report! Two weeks ago Sunday Mike Koerner and Barry McGarraugh both flew diamond distance from Crystal – to airports 280 miles apart, Mike to Hurricane, UT and Barry to Gabbs, NV. Here are their stories.
I made it to Hurricane on Sunday. I launched at 10 am, climbed to 13.5 and left the mountains at 10:40… But, the desert had not yet woken. I dumped my water on the lower slopes of Calico Peak, gave an impromptu air show to the bus loads of other mine visitors and spent the next hour and a half climbing up the mountain.
More than the wasted time, dumping the ballast forecloses on the possibility of a long flight, especially on a day like this, without favorable winds. With my 17.6 meter tips, the wing loading without water is too low to go fast. I made a bunch of mistakes anyway, so I’ll just call it a practice day. Even Fran can use the practice (she booked our room in Mesquite for the wrong day using Hotels.com).
Thanks to Erik Knight at Williams, my newly refinished wings are incredibly pretty. And based on current and previous comparisons to glide computer calculations, they seem to perform better as well.
My batteries, on the other hand, do not seem to have taken advantage of the time off. Both were in sorry shape despite being fully charged. I only turned my radio to announce when my alternate changed. Without it, or the transponder, I was forced way out over Lake Mead to avoid Vegas Class Bravo. I hadn’t taken this route in years. It’s certainly the long way around.
I made it to Gabbs on Sunday and Karl landed at Lone Pine. Karl and I used Skysight for the first time to forecast the weather and it seems to work fairly well.
Overall, the weather forecast looked very good going north with Austin the goal. Karl had some trouble with his O2 and had to peel off the Sierra just south of Olancha (after we had gotten past the hard bit), and I continued up the Sierras. Conditions got really good and I ran between 16-18K all the way past Mina.
I had Austin in the bag, but decided to call it quits at Gabbs since Sue was quite a ways behind and now driving alone. I landed around 5:30 and Sue got there around 7. We set up camp, heated up some chili and drank some cold beer as the sun set.