On this date 60

Well, first of all, on this date every year (more or less,) it’s the winter solstice, the time of the year when the Earth’s axial tilt places the sun at its southernmost point, meaning the daylight for those in the northern hemisphere is the shortest of the year; from this point on, the ‘days’ will be getting longer. A little victory to most of us up here.

‘Course, in the southern hemisphere it’s the longest daylight period, and it’s summer. That’s because they have to do everything different down there, and even when they speak English, they do it weirdly. But whatcha gonna do?

I also slipped in “more or less” above because the solstice does not always fall on the 21st, because orbital mechanics and leap years and so on. It’s sloppy. Technically, the sun doesn’t reach its lowest elevation until 3:59 PM UTC today, which makes it 10:59 AM locally – I posted early so you can run out and see it dip the lowest before starting back up. Should be exciting.

But while we’re here, we’ll examine what I was shooting on this date in other years, because I haven’t picked up the camera since the failed attempt at the comet. I suck, I know, but I’ve actually been getting some other stuff done, and some of it may show here eventually. Mostly, however, I suck.

So, let’s see, in 2012 we had:

shed exoskeleton of unidentified grasshopper Orthoptera
Just one, really, but that was because I started this session late and subsequent frames fell on the 22nd. This is the shed exoskeleton of an unidentified grasshopper/Orthoptera, that I collected for detail shots, switching to the ring flash for different lighting after this. Don’t ask me what that circle in the eye is, because I’m not sure, but I suspect that it’s a moisture droplet on the inner surface. Yes, this is very small.

A minor observation, while we’re here. You’ll notice that the overall exoskeleton/chitin is very thin and translucent, except for the antennae. Which is curious because the antennae are sensing organs, so I would have thought the ‘skin’ covering them would be the thinnest, or perhaps perforated or something; this has the appearance of being much hardier. Or heartier, Perhaps both, but not what I’d have expected.

And then, a whole bunch for the next year, but I’ll only feature two.

larva of green lacewing Chrysopidae showing underside and camouflage
Freaky, I know, but if you’ve ever noticed a little ball of lint or fluff or debris meandering along a plant, this is what it looks like underneath. This is the larva of a green lacewing (family Chrysopidae,) head-on – the reddish-brown tongs are their chelicerae (fangs,) while at the base of those, the dark spots are the eyes. What I was pleased to capture are those pale appendages extending upwards and ending in a spray of ‘fronds;‘ these are the anchors for all that fluff, gathered by the lacewing and attached thereon to provide both camouflage and something for any predators to latch onto that isn’t the lacewing itself. Without the camouflage, they look like they’re sprouting a bunch of backscratchers from their bodies, but to see this, you have to gently and meticulously pluck the fluff away, which I know because I have. Yeah, yeah, I hear you, but I’m still waiting on those tickets to someplace exotic, so it’s at least partially your own fault.

dew on sails for small unidentified seeds
In like vein while being wholly unrelated, we have dew on the seeds of… something, a plant at least. I was just having fun with the high magnification lenses because, you know, it was winter. I was also probably already done with the christmas projects, or The Girlfriend was home and so I couldn’t work on them – more likely the latter, because I tend to run closer to the wire with such things (if not kilometers across it.) One of these days, I’ll have a nice, enclosed, heated workshop where I can do gifts away from prying eyes – it’s drawing closer, at least.

[By the way, if you followed that second link, you should know that they both still routinely drive those cars, even though both tire covers have been replaced by newer versions. Hondas last forever.]

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