Sunday, January 5, 2020 at 11:49 (UTC+0000)

The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is not a circle.  It is an ellipse, with the Sun at one focus (an ellipse has two of these, while a circle has only one, which is called the center).  That means that the Earth comes closer to the Sun during part of its yearly orbit.  A few hours ago we passed that point, called perihelion, from the Greek words peri (meaning close), and helios (the Sun).  The difference is not great: we are now about 147 million kilometers from the Sun, and at the farthest point, aphelion, on July 4 this year, we will be about 152 million kilometers away.

To celebrate the New Year last week we went with friends to nearby, historical Stirling, site of a castle and a famous battle at a narrow bridge.  You might know the battle from the movie Braveheart.  We did some hiking in the rolling grassy muddy hills, on a spectacular day with great views up to the Highlands and down toward the sea.  And on New Years Eve we joined the crowds up beside the castle to hear local bands (check out Treacherous Orchestra) and watch a dazzling fireworks show.

Happy New Year everyone!  Happy New Decade!