Later morning

Monday 28th December 2015

Green Lane, Tramway, Banbury Canal, Canal Lane, St. Louis Meadow, Green Lane
6.35km / 4 miles – 70m / 230ft

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route map It's a little known fact that the sunrise doesn't get earlier after the Winter solstice – it carries on rising a few tens of seconds later each day until around 30th December. So this morning, while I've already marked the solstice, this is a "later morning".

I'm off for a quick pre-dawn excursion down the canal to capture the sunrise.

Making a drink this morning the eastern horizon was a series of layers of deep azure blue and blood-red. It looks like it could be an interesting morning.

The spin of the Earth on it's wobbly axis means that the solstices and the extremes of the orbital cycle don't quite match-up.

The solstice has been and gone, but the mornings are still getting later. The Earth reaches perihelion, when it is closest to the sun, on 2nd January. That's when the inevitable march towards Summer, and aphelion on the 4th July, formally begins.

Sunsets started to get later about a week before the solstice last week, but sunrises are still getting later too. The average of that equilibrium was the solstice on the shortest day of the year – and sunrise won't start to get earlier until the end of this week.

In June, for the Summer Solstice, the trend is the reversed. Sunrise gets later rather than earlier for a week before the solstice, but so does the sunset until a week after the solstice – when it starts to get earlier as the season pivots towards Winter.

Off out of the town via Green Lane and the Canal I make it out into the countryside in time to capture the sunrise. The effect is exaggerated by the layered veils of clouds and con-trails that sit along the south-eastern horizon.

Another curious thing this morning – the railway is as busy as the motorway as one Intercity 125 after another goes this way and that almost continuously (on this stretch of line the signalling permits a train each way every five minutes). It turns our that Great Western Trains are diverting London-bound services from Wales and the South-West via Banbury and the Chiltern Line into London.

I climb the hill to the top of Canal Lane and survey the scene across the Cherwell Valley. The intensity of colour around the sunrise has dissipated now as grey cloud moves in. Shifting at a pace down Oxford Road back into town, people are beginning to emerged into the streets. It's quite thickly clouded over now – the sky is nowhere near as spectacular as it was. It's a pity all these people missed the light show; perhaps it might have brightened their day.