On Friday Jan. 27 a man walked into the West Alabama Bank in Fayette, Ala., and tried to rob the place. He left without any money. Local law enforcement officials pursued three suspects to the Walker County line where the suspects abandoned their vehicle and fled into the woods. All three suspects were later apprehended. Enjoy a gallery of photos from the day's excitement below.
Today, December 21, marks the winter solstice. It occurred with little fanfare this morning at 4:44 a.m. Though the winter solstice only lasts a brief moment, its affects can be felt and seen. The winter solstice marks the days of minimum daylight and long dark nights.
For folks living in the earth's northern hemisphere the winter solstice is when the sun sets and rises at its most southerly points on the eastern and western horizons. The summer solstice, which occurs exactly six months from today, is when the sun sets and rises at its most northerly points on the eastern and western horizons. The solstices are caused by what is known as axial tilt. In its orbit around the sun the earth’s spin axis maintains a 23 degree tilt in relation to its orbital plane. It’s easy to understand axial tilt if you imagine a pencil sticking straight up and down through the center of a ball. Now tilt the ball and pencil about 23 degrees from upright. That’s axial tilt. Without axial tilt there would be no winter, summer, fall or spring.
Today the earth's northern hemisphere reached the maximum point that it can be tilted away from the sun. From this day forward, as the earth makes its way around the sun, the days will begin to lengthen as more of the northern hemisphere is exposed to the sun. Six months from now the earth's Northern hemisphere will have reached the maximum point that it can be tilted toward the sun and that will mark the summer solstice. The summer solstice occurs on June 20, the first day of summer.
To our ancient ancestors the winter solstice was a day of mourning and celebration; mourning for the death of the sun who was falling closer to the horizon, making each day shorter, and giving less light. But also, it was a time of celebration when the sun was reborn and began climbing higher into the winter sky and giving more light and heat through the following days. Many ancient cultures celebrated festivals during this time. One ancient Northern European winter solstice festival called Yule lasted for 12 days. Yule was celebrated by burning a giant log intended to provide warmth for the duration of the festival. Today, many modern families still take part in the ritual of going out and bringing in the yule log to place in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. Other ancient winter solstice practices include placing wreaths on doors, singing to the neighbors and decorating trees. It’s amazing how many of these ancient rituals have carried over into our modern Christmas holiday and winter festivities.
Today marks the new moon. A new moon phase begins as the historic November 2016 SuperMoon goes into the history books. Before the new phase begins with the crescent moon tomorrow it would be completely uncouth of me to wait any longer before posting my November moon pics. Below is a gallery of photos that I made of the moon during the month of November 2016. They range in phase from the crescent to just after the historic full SuperMoon on the 14th when the moon was just 221,524 miles from earth. I made the photos at various places in Alabama, as I did some traveling around. Enjoy!
Two hours after reaching fullness today, the moon reached perigee. Perigee is the point nearest to earth the moon travels during its 29-day elliptical orbit around our host planet. When the moon reaches perigee at full stage it appears brighter and fuller and it's called a Super Moon. But today's perigee was something different. It was a milestone you might say. Today at around 9:30 A.M., CST the moon was 221,524 miles from earth. That's the nearest point the moon has traveled to earth since January 26, 1948. The moon won't swing this close again until November 25, 2034.
History came alive this past weekend at an old French fort site just southwest of Wetumpka, Ala. History lovers and re-enactors converged on Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson National Historic Park for the annual Frontier Days celebration to reveal a time in Alabama’s distant past. In 1717, at the invitation of the Alibamu Indians, the French built a fort at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers as a check to British expansion into Southeastern North America. For 100 years, as international fortunes waxed and waned in the Southeast, the fort site became the property of occupying French, British, Spanish and American interests. In August 1815 General Andrew Jackson conducted the Treaty of Fort Jackson on the site. That treaty forced the Creek Indians to cede 20 million acres of their land to the United States. Enjoy a gallery of photos from Saturday’s activities below.
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell made history last night. In the third inning of Game 6 with the bases loaded Russell drove a pitch over the center field wall at Progessive Field in Cleveland to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead over the Indians. The Cubs won the game 9-3.
Russell, 22, became the first Cub ever to hit a grand slam in a World Series and the second youngest player to accomplish the feat.
The youngest player to a hit a grand slam was New York Yankee Mickey Mantle. Mantle was 21 when he hit a grand slam against the Brooklyn Dodgers in game 5 of the World Series on October 4, 1953.
Russell was only 11 years old the last time a grand slam was hit in World Series play. That one was by Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko during Game 2 of the Fall Classic in 2005.
Congratulations to Addison Russell! Let’s Go Cubbies!
The Von Braun Astronomical Society held its annual Astronomy Day at the VBAS facilities in Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville on Saturday, October 22 from 1-10 pm. The event included family fun activities hosted by local science groups, planetarium shows and telescope observing. Planetarium shows allowed guests to view the night sky indoors, while special solar telescopes outside offered views of sunspots and solar flares. Former NASA Astronaut Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson (CAPT, USN Ret.), gave a presentation inside the planetarium. Enjoy a gallery of photos below of the day’s events.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org