The SunRing Solstice Observatory - Winter 2023 Solstice Journal

October 17, 2023

Curcular Sun Shadow Casters genesis. I cut them out with a scroll saw.

November 3, 2023

Shadow Caster shadows early morning.
The four Shadow Casters (three shown here) are mounted on poles aligned with the Winter Solstice line of bricks.
On December 21, the circular shadows will align concentrically at sunrise!

November 12, 2023

Shadow Caster shadows early morning with the Summer solstice line under construction

November 17, 2023

Shadow Caster shadows early morning

November 25, 2023

Sunrise and Shadow Caster shadows early morning
Adjustments to the vertical alignment of the Circular Sun Shadow Casters are expected as Winter Solstice approaches

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - Cloudy this morning! Starting with today's entry I'll be posting here every day.

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 9:33 AM - Cloudy this morning.

Friday, December 1, 2023 - 11:23 AM - Some clouds and mist blocked the sun except for a minute or so in the early going. I was able to get one picture with faint shadows. I've decided I will be adding a board or something to the wall so I can see the shadows better.

Pictures taken at 6:45 AM

Saturday, December 2, 2023 - 4:30 PM - Morning clouds to the far east prevented me from getting a good sunrise sun shadow photo. Currently there are a lot of high clouds. Hoping for a better chance tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 3, 2023 - 10:58 AM, 11:42 AM - Although there were some high clouds, visibility at the horizen was quite good for this morning's sunrise.

One thing I'm thinking about is that at the instant of the sun's first rays, the shadows are rather indistinct. At full sun, that is when the sun is first fully above the horizon, with the bottom touching the horizen, the shadows are much clearer. So... I have to decide at what point the Circular Sun Shadow Casters are to cast concentric circles. Currently the idea is to do it at the sun's first rays. I may realign to aim for first full sun.

Pictures taken at 6:45, 6:46 and about 6:49 AM

Monday, December 4, 2023 - 2:38 PM - Thick cirrostratus at sunrise, no photography.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023 - No photography.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 - 9:10 AM - Super clear this morning!

Pictures taken at 6:49 and 6:50 AM. I added the board for displaying the shadowns in their full glory!

Thursday, December 7, 2023 - No photography.

Friday, December 8, 2023 - No photography.

Saturday, December 9, 2023 - 8:52 AM - Another very clear morning! The sun has now moved far enough to the right that it's position on the horizon is at the same elevation as it will be at solstice. I'm going to have to adjust the big ring slightly to bring it up to be centered vertically with the smallest ring shadow and the other two rings as needed. I'm going to wait until just a couple days before solstice before doing this as there may be some horizontal adjustments required too.

Pictures taken at 6:52 and 6:53 AM

Sunday, December 10, 2023 - No photography.

Monday, December 11, 2023 - No photography.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023 - Thick fog and marine layer this morning, hope to get pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 - Low clouds to the east again, very local. Drier air is forecast for the next several days. Will try again tomorrow.

Thursday, December 14, 2023 - 10:19 AM - Clear sunrise this morning. We are now very close to Winter Solstice sunrise position. Today, the second to largest Shadow Caster is now well out of horizontal alignment and I'm going to fix that today. More importantly, I've determined that the Winter solstice line itself is off and will have to be rotated with the ends moved about 1/2" counterclockwise. This I'll do today too. Finally the vertical alignments need to be tweaked and I'll work on that too. I expect a clear sunrise tomorrow morning and will do further adjustments right at sunrise if needed.

While Southern California almost always needs rain, unfortunately the forecast increasingly calls for significant rain both on Winter Solstice Thursday and Friday! Thursday evening at 7:27 PM is the exact time of Winter Solstice meaning the SunRing presentation should be at maximum both Thursday and Friday mornings.

Pictures taken at 6:55 and 6:56 AM
The second biggest ring has shifted to the left, affecting the shadow cast lineup! Will adjust.

Friday, December 15, 2023 - 11:08 AM - Some high clouds with a fuzzy sunrise. Yesterday I adjusted the Shadow Casters and without any guidance, the iterative line of sight work was challenging. As I've decided to go for a "perfect" shadow line-up when the sun is fully up I've decided to leave the Winter solstice line alone. That third ring still needs a little tweak. Tomorrow should be sunny again and I plan to do a time-lapse of the shadows. Rain continues to be in the forecast for Thursday and Friday.The shadows were very nearly lined up today!

Pictures taken at 6:57 and 6:59 AM
That second biggest ring still needs some adjustment!

Saturday, December 16, 2023 - 11:06 AM - Amazing sky this morning and I ran a SunRing time lapse for about a half hour hoping a break would occur... total fail, clouds too thick... no shadows cast. Will try again tomorrow. Meanwhile a lot of rain is predicted for the second half of the coming week, with the Winter solstice smack dab in the middle of this period!

Sunday, December 17, 2023 - 9:47 AM - Scattered high clouds this morning, but super clear for the sunrise! With the clear sky, the ring shadows appeared quite suddenly. That third ring is still anoyingly out of line. Will try again to do better. The weather forecast is calling for clouds, showers, and significant rain increasing all this coming week.

The time-lapse started at 6:53 AM and ran for close to a half hour.

Monday, December 18, 2023 - 9:19 AM - Overcast skies this morning extending just beyond the sunrise horizon. My plan was to hope to get shadows at or very soon after sunrise and dynamically adjust the third ring watching it's shadow accordingly. No luck. A few small gaps in the clouds appeared but they were too far after sunrise.

7:01 AM December 18

Tuesday, December 19, 2023 - 10:09 AM - Cloudy again this morning. The forecast is for a lot of rain later this week. Will try my luck tomorrow.

7:01 AM December 19

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 - 9:15 AM - Despite the rainy weather forecast, we had a perfect sunrise this morning! Some minor adjustments I made yesterday were good enough. The sunrise was right at the location I had marked for solstice and lined up beautifully with the Winter solstice sunrise line.

First sun was at 6:59 AM December 20

7:00 AM December 20

Thursday, December 21, 2023 - 2:12 PM - First day of Winter - Winter Solstice! Amazingly despite the rainy forecast we had a very pretty sunrise and everything worked beautifully!

Pictures taken at 5:54 AM and 6.28 AM

Pictures taken at 7:00 AM and 7:01 AM. The SunRing nailed it!

Friday, December 22, 2023 - 1:15 PM - The exact solstice was as 7:27 PM local time yesterday evening, so today's surise was almost equally near solstice as yesterday. Overnight we received .46" of rain, yet for a short while this morning gaps in the clouds opened up and I was able to get pictures! The sunrise was blocked for almost a minute before breaking through the clouds.

Pictures taken at 7:01 AM and 7:02 AM (The Circular Sun Shadow Casters are shown from two different angles)
So cool!

These are the last pictures for Winter Solstice 2023. Sometime next year I will resume work on the SunRing!

©2023 John S. Stokes III