Winter First Light

Flanders Moss NNR

Yesterday I had an early morning at Flanders where I was meeting contractors starting work out on the moss. I was running a bit early so had a quick walk round the boardwalk. Scientifically there are different stages of first light or twilight, before the sun appears above the horizon. Civil, nautical and astronomical twilight all have technical parameters. But all I know is that it was breathtaking. Bitterly cold, a hard frost, ground hard as iron, snow capped mountains glimmering in the half light, no wind. I wasn’t the only one out, also present were the local churring wrens, a lone goose looking for its mates, a distant raven up to no good and crows drifting out of the night time roost by the car park to start the daily search for food.

Gradually the light grew. Not a brightly colour sunrise but more of a soft mother of pearl palette.

And despite the patchy forecast it turned into a cracking day.

With Ben Lomond and its snow capped top looming over the Moss like our own Mount Everest.

For those scientifically minded here are the different stages of first light. These are difficult to measure yourself but you can find the times for each stage for each day.

Civil twilight occurs when the Sun is less than 6 degrees below the horizon. In the morning, civil twilight begins when the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon and ends at sunrise. In the evening, it begins at sunset and ends when the Sun reaches 6 degrees below the horizon.

Nautical twilight occurs when the geometrical center of the Sun is between 6 degrees and 12 degrees below the horizon. This twilight period is less bright than civil twilight and artificial light is generally required for outdoor activities. We start our goose roost counts from the beginning of nautical twilight.

Astronomical twilight occurs when the Sun is between 12 degrees and 18 degrees below the horizon.

I just know that it was worth being out and about for.

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2 Responses to Winter First Light

  1. Anne says:

    A wonderful sequence of photographs and an interesting lesson about light!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phil says:

    Thanks for some great photos. We were up a bit later than you, but were starting up Ben Lomond at about 9am and it slowly cleared as we got to the top. Had it all to ourselves, which was very unusual. I was taking Sue out for lunch, as it was her birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

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