The night of the 20th or 21st June comes around each year and often passes without a blip – just another night in a calendar of nights.
It is the longest night of the year in the Southern hemisphere. It is the night when the sun appears to “stand still” and start to go the other way again heralding the advent of more daylight hours and the warmth of summer until the longest day on the 21st December – the summer solstice!
Port Macquarie Astronomical Association celebrated the winter solstice in true spirit this year. In yellow bathing caps and white towels, adventurous souls plunged into the icy waters of the Hastings River at dawn to celebrate the rising of the new sun on Sunday 21 June 2020.
“Reminds you that you are alive!” stuttered Sophie, the newest member of the Association, teeth chattering
“Glad I am still alive” beamed Chris, one of the older members of the Association, skin dimpled with goose bumps.
The winter solstice swim followed a night at the Observatory where members were able to view the International Space Station flying over Port Macquarie, and enjoy an Antarctic themed dinner including stories, speeches, homemade video clips and toasts to all those in the forefront of human endeavors and in particular our astronauts, astronomers and Antarctic adventurers. Attendees were invited to dress formally in black tie (colloquially referred to as “penguin suits”).
Covid-19 rules of social distancing and the application of copious amounts of hand sanitizer were maintained as appropriate.