65. Winter Solstice

DSCN1841The calendar says “first day of winter”. The astronomically inclined say “winter solstice”. Since this is the day that the sun appears to be as far south as it ever gets, it bothers me sometimes that the first day of winter (speaking with a northern hemispheric bias) comes when, by the sun, winter should be half over. That feeling comes of having a certain kind of over-picky mind; pure experience, of the shivering kind, recognizes that there is a delay effect in seasonal changes. Meterologically speaking, the phrase “first day of winter” fits pretty well. It’s going to get a lot colder before it gets warmer again.

What if it didn’t get colder, or warmer? What if we had no seasons? What would that do to your heating and cooling bills? What would it do to your wardrobe? Would you even wear clothing?

It’s easy enough to arrange; just choose a planet with no axial tilt. Like Cyan.

Late in the novel Cyan, while some of the scouts are on a rescue mission to save a group of Cyl (non-human natives) by transferring them to the southern hemisphere, we get a detailed picture of what Cyan looks like.

In the cockpit, Debra was alone with her thoughts while Tasmeen attended to piloting the landing craft.  The sky outside was black with stars. She had never expected to see the stars from space again. Beneath them, Cyan spun lazily. Clouds blanketed various portions of the temperate zone where humans lived, and only a bit of the torrid zone which was the domain of the Cyl. Further north than that, where Keir and the children were, clouds massed high and storms raged.

The lower latitudes passed beneath them. This was the band of eternal desert, where every island and fragment of a continent was dry lifeless rock studding a lifeless sea. There were few clouds here, but ahead of them now was the equatorial cloud band. The heart of the great heat engine that was Cyan, where the water steamed in the relentless light of Procyon A, pumping moisture into the atmosphere and sending it northward and southward, over the lifeless bands too hot for coalescence and on up toward the dry Cyl lands and the wet human lands and the great snowcapped poles.

They passed the clouded equator, the southern dead zone, spiraling down toward the southern torrid, the zone where neither Cyl nor man had ever set foot, and where the Cyl could live secure from the depredations of man.

Aside: Cyan was originally scheduled for publication in January, but has been pushed back to April or May.

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2 thoughts on “65. Winter Solstice

  1. Matthew Wright

    That issue of axial tilt and the likely climate of planets with one that differ from ours is a fascinating area. As I understand it, Earth’s tendency to precess is limited by the Moon. A world without a large Moon would tend to wobble over a wider range. What would that do to its climate as far as life was concerned? A world such as you describe with no axial tilt offers challenges of its own by comparison with Earth.

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    1. sydlogsdon Post author

      Hello Matthew,
      Since I haven’t seen your name before, welcome. I haven’t played around with precession, but I have built three planets with varying axial tilts. Cyan, straight up, in a novel of the same name due out in e-book April or May from EDGE ; the disharmonious planet of Harmony in Jandrax (Balantine, 1978) had a tilt of 32 degrees, much glaciation, mammals in continuous migration (see post 14, posted last equinox), and Stormking around Sirius with an Uranian tilt, which the local spaceborne humans use as a prison planet in Dreamsinger, which is on my to-write list. Planet building is endlessly fascinating.
      Your website looks fascinating as well, though I’ve only had a chance to glance over it so far. Syd Logsdon

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