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Let there be more Daylight

Today is winter solstice time in Australia – at 4.46pm EST to be precise. This is when the earth is at maximum tilt on its axis relative to the sun. In Sydney, sunrise is at 7:00am and sunset at 4:54pm giving 10 hours of daylight and a 14 hour night. In the northern hemisphere they are having long days. In Oslo in Norway they will have 19 hours of daylight and 5 hour nights. Scandinavia celebrates solstice with festivals dating back to Stone Henge times. In Australia it will probably pass without much mention, except for those early morning pre-work joggers and walkers who might give a cheer as they will shortly be able to see where they are going again!

Time was pretty simple when we had sundials and standing stones and it was only the local village which needed to know the time. Now with sons and daughters spinning around the world, we need to know when to ring so it fits their daily schedule wherever they are. There are 50 timezones in the world. What used to be held as the international standard as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) has been hijacked by the global committee system to be called UTC which stands for Coordinated Universal Time (note the abbreviation doesn’t match does it! – Blame the inability of the French and English to ever see eye to eye).

In 1970 the Coordinated Universal Time system was devised by an international advisory group of technical experts within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU felt it was best to designate a single abbreviation for use in all languages in order to minimize confusion. Since unanimous agreement could not be achieved on using either the English word order, CUT, or the French word order, TUC, the acronym UTC was chosen as a compromise. But it’s still measured at the zero meridian that passes through Greenwich Observatory. A list of World Time Zones has been added to Resources under Lists.

Posted Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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