Tag Archives: Solar System


Midwinter Until Spring Equinox creates the MUSE part of mistYmuse. The first part consists of Most Ideal Sunrise Times, and they seem a long time ago now. The sunrise times have retreated from about 08.30 to just after 6. Really, it’s just our first sight of the sun, with the northern hemisphere now tilted towards our star, as it continues its regular orbit.

This is our current position in the solar system according to theplanetstoday:

In midwinter we were at 12 o’ clock, with the northern hemisphere mostly pointed out to space. That meant the northern hemisphere had a lower share of sunlight than the southern. Now we are equal.

After this second instalment of the mistYmuse closing day ceremony is quite serious; like a band playing a slower number mid set; I can promise a rocking third post to bring the curtain down on mYm 20/21.

Ignorance not proof: HUMBLE HUMAN, ALIEN ALOOF

I am a Humanities/Social-Science PhD Graduate, disillusioned with human society, preferring to escape into the void of space, where I am an amateur astronomer… and agnostic alien accomplice!?

Little example of my thinking/writing being scientific rather than religious (like King Cnut, I don’t claim any power over nature… I am agnostic about it though… maybe it does sometimes… but to its own time rather than any mere human’s; and whether nature has a living mind , as in James Lovelock’s Gaia theory… so it could be reacting to its treatment, as a plant will either thrive or decay depending on its surroundings):

Thursday: Every sky has a sunlight gap. Little horizon gap allowing sunlight this morning inspired above adaptation of: Every cloud has a silver lining.
Friday: As if to prove me wrong, no sky sun gap today; a pea-souper! Then again, every cloud doesn’t have a silver lining either!!

Saturday: Reading this MSN article I thought ‘how can we see exoplanets in other solar systems, and not possible ones on the edge of ours?’ Thanks to the glories of the www it was answered in this IFL Science article, summarised by this: ‘Looking for exoplanets is much easier, as strange as that may seem. It’s like trying to see someone in the silhouette of a window very far away, compared to seeing someone in pitch black much closer to you. As such, we know of thousands of exoplanets, but comparatively little large bodies in the outer Solar System.’

So that made me think again how little we know; not even knowing our own solar system, which is one of millions in our Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way is one of millions of galaxies in the universe.
Theoretically, there could be aliens on Planet 9 or 10 in our solar system looking in at us, without us being able to see them. It’s a bit chilly out there, but they could be much more advanced than us, and developed ways to survive there; as we plan to do on Mars etc.
I don’t know if there are, but we don’t know there’s not either.

There was a lot of such thinking, along with a fantastic fantasy fiction story; insight into the writer mind; and epic poetry mixed with zany comedy in XaW Files: Beyond Humanity!

sun hugs southern horizon now for NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

#mYm20 philosophical thinking:

Seeing the sunrise and sunset now both in the southern sky, as in yesterday’s photos, I was thinking that in the northern hemisphere it is now like we’re looking back at the sun in our rear (north to south) as we might see a landmark travelling farther into the distance after we’ve passed it in a vehicle, and now it’s visible through the rear window.

In our ‘summer’ it’s as if we’re travelling towards a landmark, seeing it get closer and brighter in front of us (north to north) up until the ‘summer solstice’, when we ‘pass it’. It then starts receding into our ‘rear view mirror’ again, back down to the ‘southern horizon’.

If our planet wasn’t spinning around, giving us days and nights when we’re facing the sun or away from it, and we were on the side facing the sun, in a place where sunrise/sunset is always visible, we’d see its movement all the time; or our movement around it in reality; rather than mostly measuring its movement in sunrises and sunsets.

Hemisphere Seasons Reasons: Hemispheasons?!

As seen in this Planets Today orrery, Earth is now at 1 o’ clock on a normal clock face, with the northern hemisphere pointed towards deep space with our planet’s 23.4 axial tilt. That is why we have winter and less daylight. We are like a reclining human looking back down their body. In contrast Earth’s south is now directly facing the sun, giving it their summer.

In 6 months of ‘our time’ we’ll be at 7 o’ clock on a normal clock face, with our north facing the sun and where we are now at ‘1 o’ clock’. We will be like a reclining human facing the sun, while our planet’s south will be pointed out towards space, and they will be looking back over the Earth’s body to the sun.

Planets race tonight and year

Jupiter and Saturn visibility has travelled across the southern sky over the year, westward from south-east to middle now: that’s because they’re on the ‘outside lane’ and we’re overtaking on the inside. In contrast to our year (365 days; time measurement created by humanity of course) orbit it takes Jupiter 11.86 years to orbit the sun, and Saturn 29.50, so they are not always seen close together like that; Jupiter will ‘race’ ahead of Saturn.

They also look like they’re travelling westwards each night, but that’s because of our planetary spin. In contrast, Venus is on our inside, taking only 224 ‘days’ to orbit the sun, so is racing ahead, looking as if it’s travelling eastward on our horizon over the year.

It was Galileo’s observations of the full planetary phases of Venus in 1610 that determined planets orbit the sun, rather than Earth.

Venus still looks as if it’s travelling west through the night though, because that’s defined by our planetary spin. As Jupiter lags behind us we see it earlier as our planet twists around anti-clockwise:

Jupiter 12.49 (November 5th) to 11.07 (December 5th)
As Venus races ahead, we see it later:
Venus 3.54 (November 5th) to 5.32 (December 5th)

Eventually, Venus will go out of sight behind the sun, reappearing in our evening as it catches up with us again. This year (2020), space.com writes Venus was in our: Evenings in the western sky at dusk from January 1st to May 24th; mornings in the eastern sky at dawn from June 13 to Dec. 31.


Travelling on Planet Earth.

[double play of words: the first affectionately parodying a newspaper, while the second paraphrases Led Zeppelin’s album, The Song Remains the Same]

If you watch another planet or two (good sight of Jupiter and Saturn in the southern sky with the moon again last night) through a window you can see our movement: as the planets seem to slowly travel across the window before leaving sight.

Earth’s spin is the same reason for our daily view of the sun. The sun remains the same through time though, as we orbit it,

The other planets are also orbiting it, so their positions in ‘our night sky’ change. We are on the ‘inside lane’ of Jupiter and Saturn, so will race ahead soon, and they won’t be in our ‘outside lane’ vison.

Our daily/nightly sight of the moon is different, because it orbits us.

End of Days

Leaving days, we leave our planet’s spin influence.

The seasons are not because of our planet’s spin. They are because of our Earth’s rigid 23.4 axis tilt, which means that as we orbit the sun over the course of our year, each north-south hemisphere has half a year pointing towards the sun and then space, or just out to space.

Our planet’s spin still gives both hemispheres day and night, although there is more/less depending on where we are in the orbit (year). Now, the northern hemisphere is pointing more and more to space, so we will have more and more darkness; the southern is pointing more and more towards the sun, so it will have more light.

I hope the above combination of artistic imagination and writing explanation can be useful to your enjoyment of the night sky. I’ve been passively learning about it all my life, but my writing and researching over the last fifteen years made me more active. The planetstoday and timeanddate websites have recently been very useful in giving me a clear image of our solar system and its timings.

The above is the kind of knowledge I wanted 11 years ago when I started this website. That it has taken this long shows that you can’t rush these kinds of things, and knowledge is not always available; or not available in the style you need. In another 11 years we will know much more, and one day we may know how our universe works the way we today know how our solar system does.

space proved! night sky orrery conformity

Every little bit of learning feels like your own personal genius eureka moment; and it is for you. This blog post contents are probably common knowledge for experienced astronomers who believe science, but for me it’s quite a find/realisation; and hopefully has valuable information for those who are even less acquainted with space and looking for scientific proof: especially if they have a clear night sky soon to check for themselves.

The last couple of evenings after sunset a half moon was visible on the southern horizon under Jupiter and Saturn (with Jupiter looking bigger and brighter, and Saturn smaller and more distant as they are said to be).

The orrery image on planetstoday seems to correspond; remembering our planet is supposed to turn anti-clockwise. Seeing time differences live on TV seems to confirm this.

Looking at the image on planetstoday…

… we turn away anti-clockwise from facing the sun to see Jupiter and Saturn past the moon after sunset: before entering night, where we face away into space, seeing Mars. In the morning our spinning turn brings us around to view Venus before sunrise.

I’ve seen the above on the orrery and in real life this month, making me more sure that science is telling us the truth about space and our solar system.

There’s lots more space info within philosophy and poetry in 242 from 8 years ago, when I was still trying to find our place in space. It’s taken some head spinning thought to get used to the fact it’s us spinning, and not the sky, but I feel like I know where I/we am/are now; kind of like getting your bearings after being lost, and wondering how you got there (only usually it’s your fault rather than the maps, which in this case is a lifetime of ‘non’-learning!):

Sun Returns to Arctic Circle: Welcome to mistYmuse 2020!

Tromso, a Norwegian Arctic Circle municipality I visited for midsummer in 2007, can see the sun again, having enjoyed only the first week of mistYmuse (Most Ideal Sunrise Times – Midwinter Until Spring Equinox) 2019. The Arctic Circle was facing away from the sun so much, Tromso could not see the sun (no ‘sunrise’) between November 27th and January 15th.

Although our planet spins around on its axis (making the ‘time of day’) the tilt stays the same; north to south; so our planet orbits the sun like a human partly elevated on a bed circling something. As shown in this seasons image:

As our planet orbits in the solar system, our axis tilt is now returning the north to facing the sun, reaching parity of light with the south at the spring (north) / autumn (south) equinox: this year on March 20th.


Planet Earth Orbit of Sun: Where We Are Now!

It’s common for people who are geographically lost to exclaim ‘Where in the world are we!?’, but less common to wonder where in the solar system (everything that circles our sun due to its gravity) we are. If you understand how our solar system works you will understand why we see the sun when we do, and why our night skies are different throughout the year.

Online Orrery, Where Are We?

I wondered about this question a few weeks ago, perhaps prompted by the opening of mistYmuse 2019/20 (#mYm2019), and found this great online orrery showing where our planet currently is, and where it is a month either side.

Our planet Earth is at the top of the ‘solar system clock face’ now, as if the end of our year is like the end of an hour, but we are going anti-clockwise!

So each night (when we are facing away from the sun, in whatever part of the planet we are, with each rotation of our Earth taking a day) we look out at the ‘northern night sky’.

Then, when the planet spins us around to face the sun again at different times (the morning sunrise), we face ‘south’ again. The way we see the sun at different locations, south/east to north/west, can be shown by these sunrise times at the moment, that are roughly on the same latitude, with their times converted to GMT for clarity (Vilnius is two hours ahead in their time, and Copenhagen one):

Vilnius 6.41, Copenhagen 7.37, Leeds 8.22, Belfast 8.45

In six months we’ll be at the opposite side of the sun, and so will have a better view of our Milky Way galaxy, as our solar system is on the north-west edge of it, so we have a better view of it when we are ‘south’ of the sun. That was featured in the Sky at Night review of the year (only available in UK).

See the source image

My latest books:


Equinox Poem for the March Celebrations

English: Kukulkan at its finest during the Spr...
Image via Wikipedia

Marc Latham’s latest Folding Mirror poem celebrates the March equinox, which is due to take place at 05.14 on March 20th, 2012, UT.
Shadowless Seconds on Earth’s Equator
Equinox celebrations
for being upright twice a year
no tilt to the north
my axis is straight
I favour neither hemisphere
in March it is the beginning of summer
for those above the equator
more hours of light than dark
centre of Earth – Subsolar – and Sun correlate
sunrise sunset either side of midday
balancing the world in seasons
September is the end of winter for people
living in planet’s south
each year I deliver
equal time to each half
trust has been earned over time
calendars earmarked
Marc Latham’s central site is the Greenygrey (http://www.greenygrey.co.uk)

Red Sun Gives You Wings of Pink Poem


There was a great early morning sky spectacular over Leeds this morning, featuring planets, stars, sunrise, iridescent lights and more:

  • Venus and other celestial objects in a clear dark sky, with the first signs of light visible in orange and blue on the eastern horizon.
  • a big cloud lit up like a big pink jelly just before sunrise
  • and iridescent lights in a thin horizon cloud after the sunrise.

Just before the sunrise, the sun was lighting up planes flying over the treetop horizon, and making them look rather good.  It inspired this poem, which retreads some previous Marc Latham fm poems, but also has some originality.

 Dawn Cinderellas Pink Candy Dance

heavy metal hulks
noisy and cumbersome
when grounded become

flamingo comets

sailing over sunrise
silent and sleek
fade fusing fandango