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The pink Belt of Venus | Essex Column

It’s time to vote on your favorite pictures in the CATS photo contest. You can see all the entries at their web site, champlainareatrails.com.

It’s wonderful to get some snow to brighten up the landscape. We’re in the very darkest days of the year right now, with our shortest day measuring only eight hours and 50 minutes in length. Once we get past the winter solstice on Dec. 21, the days start to slowly grow, and by Dec. 31 we’ll have gained a whole 5 minutes. By Jan. 31, the day will be nine hours and 49 minutes long, nearly a whole hour longer than the days we have now. In case you’re curious, our longest day is 15 hours and 32 minutes, which occurs June 20.

We stopped by the Grange last Sunday afternoon for the holiday open house. It was hard to find a parking spot there was such a crowd, with lots of kids, carol singing, several local dignitaries and numerous freshly scrubbed farmers offering their wares.

The last of our garden nasturtiums are flowering indoors, having been cut just before frost in October and placed in jars of water. The stems send out roots under water and produce sweet smelling flowers for a month or so. The word nasturtium comes from the Latin “nasus tortus” or twisted nose, referring to the peppery taste of these edible flowers.

This morning as I write this it’s clear and very cold, a few minutes before sun rise, and to the west over the Jay Range the shadow of the earth is prominent just above the horizon. When atmospheric conditions are right, the shadow the sun casts shows up as a gray-blue band, either just before dawn or right after sunset. Above the shadow the pink Belt of Venus is often seen. Also called Venus’ Girdle, this is a swath of pink-orange light caused by red light scattering in the atmosphere. Along the lakeshore, the earth’s shadow and Belt of Venus are best seen at sun set, and when you have a full moon rising over the Green Mountains, it’s a breath taking sight, although one that lasts only a couple of minutes.

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