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Solargraphs Revealed at Solstice Party

To celebrate the solstice and the return of longer days, please join me for a solstice party on December 21 when we will publicly reveal solargraph results from 2017. Over the past months, dozens of people have made and mounted the simple pinhole cameras that track the path of the sun through the seasons. An introduction to solargraphs will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 21, at Chicory Cafe in downtown South Bend, IN, followed by the showing of the solargraph images. You can also make your own inaugural solargraph can then, while supplies last, to start your own 2018 image.

A solargraph image tracks the sun's path over several months.

If you made a solargraph this past summer, including during Earth Day or Best. Week. Ever, put a piece of tape over the pinhole and take down your mounted solargraph can as the solstice approaches. You can either extract the photographic paper and scan the result yourself (instructions here), or bring your can to Chicory Cafe between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. before the solstice party and we can do it on site then. I appreciate your contacting me to give a heads-up that you will be bringing in your solargraph can. If you cannot attend in person or if you scan it yourself, please send me the digital image of your results.

Janet Brooks removes tape from the pinhole of a solargraph can.

Sol-stice (from Latin sol sistere) means "sun stand still." During the rest of the year the sun appears to move north and south across the sky and along the horizon, but at the solstice the sun stops and reverses direction. The December solstice is a highlight because, despite being dubbed the first day of winter, it indicates the end of the long nights and short days. In ancient times it brought relief that the life-giving sun was on the rebound.

On the December solstice the sun reaches its lowest declination, when the northern hemisphere is at its greatest tilt away from the sun. The solstices define what we call the tropics. If you were on the southerly Tropic of Capricorn around 23 degrees south latitude, the sun would appear directly overhead. In ensuing days the sun would move north and appear overhead at more northerly latitudes until the sun crossed the equator. On the June solstice the sun reaches the northern extreme overhead, the Tropic of Cancer around 23 degrees north latitude.

Restaurant interior; image courtesy of Chicory Cafe.

The Chicory Cafe is a family-friendly New Orleans-themed eatery at the corner of Michigan and Jefferson Boulevards in downtown South Bend, IN. Find them on Facebook for latest updates. You can get a kid's meal for two bucks, or imbibe in an adult beverage from their many taps. We'll be set up near the stage with a big orange box--the hood under which you can make your own solargraph.

Got ideas on how to complement the solstice celebration beyond solargraphs? Let me know. The collection of solargraph images will cycle through a slideshow while people make their new solargraph cans. You may want to bring your own 16-ounce aluminum can in case we run out.

Thanks for joining us for this revealing event on December 21, 2017.

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