A special winter solstice

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Flanders Moss, Blawhorn Moss and Loch Lomond NNR

Today is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, the winter solstice (solstice is from the Latin word solstitium meaning sun stands still). It is when the planet earth leans furthest away from the sun for the northern hemisphere.

Traditionally this was an important time in winter when you reviewed your food stocks to see if they would last through the famine months (January to March). Any surplus livestock and supplies were put together for a midwinter feast, everygreen plants were brought in to the house to celebrate new life and the rebirth of the sun was welcomed.

For me, in these more comfortable times when we don’t have to worry quite so much about food stocks,  it is when I start to think of spring. We are over the hump of winter and it is downhill from now on. If you look at trees the catkins on birch and hazel are ready open, buds are ready to burst and the tips of bulbs are showing. Spring doesn’t seem so far away.

This 2018 winter solstice is a special one. The longest night of the year will host a full moon. When these 2 events coincided the moon is called a cold moon or a long night moon. It last happened in 2010 but won’t happen again until 2094 so might well be the last chance for some us to experience it. To add to the longest nights events the Ursid meteor shower will be peaking and also Jupiter and Mercury can be seen. So a lot is going on.

So a night time walk under a full moon and a dramatic night sky, to one of the NNRs could be a good way of celebrating this years winter solstice – all you need is a clear sky. Well, miracles can happen?

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