Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does "noon" make you seasick?

Yeah, this has nothing to do with anything, but for some reason I worked on this a lot yesterday.

The thing is, I still think about how bizarre "daylight savings time", and the government's encouragement that we follow it, is. (Lest you think otherwise, I have no problem with "standardized" time zones. It's the intentional screwing up of those time zones that bewilders and frustrates me.) I've mostly gotten adjusted, but I can't help feeling that the clock is very wrong when I look at it. Which brings discomfort, which spurs me to action.

Then, I do things like watch the sky to see when the sun is actually at its zenith and discover it's even worse than I thought. The clocks around here are now 2 hours early, according to the sun. That's right- when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, which is known as "noon", the clocks say it is 2PM.

So, using Wolfram/Alpha I checked "solar noon" for this location on the 6th and 21st of every month. I was happy to see that their data matched the observations I have recorded in the past. I was worried about that because if it hadn't matched, I would trust my observations rather than their data, and then I would have been yelled at (figuratively) for ignoring authority (like when I tell people that the dictionary definition of "anarchy" is wrong).

This graph that I posted is actually only the starting point. I copied it and made graphs stretched over 2 years (yes, solar noon stays consistent over at least small numbers of years; from my previous observations and cross checking by plugging different years into Wolfram/Alpha), and graphs where I marked the peaks and troughs, and marked the solstices and equinoxes. And lots of lines connecting lots of different data points. Looking at the patterns that were revealed.

It makes me curious about the main pattern. Why does solar noon wander up and down around the year, with two peaks and two troughs sandwiched between the solstices and equinoxes? (Update: Because-- in part-- the Earth's orbit is eliptical.) I could research it by seeing what others have to say, but that would be as boring as "labs" in school where the exact same "experiment" had been done millions of times before, and everyone knew what the results would be. Yawn.

Anyway, I will keep fiddling with it whenever the urge strikes me. And, I will still wonder why some "genius" decided that government had a better idea of what clocks should be set to.

Added: I have discovered this graph is called The Equation of Time