Wow People, Lighten Up a Tad

Photo: Hector Garcia

As I am out walking amongst you people, I am taken by the hang-dog expression that many of you have. With everything in the world going swimmingly, I can only deduce it is the lack of day length that has ya’all down. Well, I am here to provide a little hope, a little ray of sunshine if you will. First of all scientists have a pretty good handle on why you are a bundle of joy to be around here in the dead of winter. These folks studied a protein that is a serotonin transporter, which apparently clears serotonin from the gaps that exist between our brain cells. So, the more of this protein that is around, the less serotonin you have in the old brain box and the greater the chance of getting the blues. These scientists found the protein more active in the brain in the fall and winter. But I digress.

We have seen and passed winter’s midpoint (February 3) and the days are lengthening apace. Now, admittedly the change has been modest thus far, for we gained less than an hour of day length between winter solstice and winter’s midpoint, but things will soon pick up speed. We will gain about two hours of day length between midpoint and the vernal equinox on March 20th. Feeling better?

The rate of change of day length is not constant, but as we in the industry say, it is sinusoidal. The reason for this is that the earth’s axis is tipped … yada, yada, yada. Suffice it to say that we will be gaining day length in ever-increasing amounts until June 21st, when, here in St. Paul, we will welcome and enjoy a full 15 hours, 37 minutes and 4 seconds of day length. Come on, people, we can do this; buck up.

  • Jacob Oettinger has a nice website where you can custom make your own day length graph, which will show the number of hours from sunrise to sunset change and a second graph shows how much the day length changes, in hours, each day. View them as a youngun views a parent who at a short distance away is coaxing and cajoling you to take a few tentative, wobbly steps toward the full sun of summer.
  • For information on day length for each and every day, visit timeanddate.com.
  • To view a really cool picture of the sun’s position in the sky throughout the year, visit cornell.edu.