Summer arrives on Sunday afternoon at 12:38 p.m. Summer begins for us in that moment, though the weather and the signs have been around for a while. The precise time is more a concept than anything we can observe, measure in time, or experience. It is a moment when the overhead sun reaches farthest north above the equator, our time. If one could follow the sun at the zenith on this day and draw a line on the ground, the line would be what appears on maps as the Tropic of Cancer, a ring around the earth, at latitude 23.5 degrees.
The red planet Mars is only a few weeks away from opposition and its brightness can not be missed. The red planet glows above the southeastern horizon two hours after sunset. Mars hasn’t been this bright in almost two years. Once Mars rises higher in the southeast, later in the evening, there is no mistaking its reddish color and its brightness amid the field of fainter stars. Mars nearly doubles in size and brightness this month.
Tonight’s first quarter moon appears in the zodiacal constellation Taurus. The moon appears high near our zenith after sunset. The moon is near the star clusters Pleaides and the Hyades. The Hyades is an assembly of many stars that looks like a large V. The brightest star in the constellation and imbedded in the Hyades is the orange star Aldebaran.
The sky is falling, steadily. Total snowfall since the first of January is 33.6 inches; which means we are already ahead of the annual average of 24.7 inches, according to the numbers compiled by the National Weather Service station in Edgartown.
Last year, 2013, the total snowfall was 36 inches.