Halfway from sunset to sunrise

My timeline yesterday was full of beautiful solstice pictures, taken at either end and full, in the first case, of oranges and then, in the second (and actually a little later than sunset), of lavenders. Regular readers will know that their chances of a sunrise picture on this blog are pretty slim but that sunset ones are more possible. Well, the sun set yesterday here at 2231 but, to get a sunset picture you first need a sun and, at that point, a blanket of thick grey cloud covered the sky to the north-west, following a day of murk and drizzle, and, well, dear reader, it was something of a let-down.

Actually, my idea this year was to capture a shot of what Shetlanders, some degrees to the north of us – call the ‘simmer dim’ (a phrase I can’t hear without a smattering of The Wailers singing about something or other hot): that time between sunset and sunrise at midsummer when, at these latitudes, the sky doesn’t really get dark – especially to the north – but continues with a glow as if from a low wattage bulb from which it is perfectly possible to see; and when you can track the apparent progress of the sun – below the horizon – from broadly west to broadly east and out of which a new day can commence. No wonder that birds migrate to Scotland – the extra light gives many more opportunities for hunting and for feeding growing families.

With sunset at 2231 and sunrise at 0431 (precisely sixteen hours of full daylight) that half-way point is 0131, with an hour or so of twilight after sunset and an hour or so of pre-dawn, that’s in the middle of only four hours of ‘dark’. Given the quality of the light here yesterday at sunset, I quickly gave up on that idea but, in its place, here’s one I prepared a little earlier – on Sunday, to be precise, when there was a sunset and when the ‘simmer dim’ was a little more evident. It’s not quite halfway, being taken at 0100 precisely, so it’s a little under-cooked in terms of the intention but, well, you get the picture:

Here, I’m looking broadly north. The lights on Benbecula: the white one to the right I think is the old HebridesNet repeater station at Torlum; the red and the white ones to the left, this is a little harder to work out, but may be the Caley Timber shed at Griminish or, perhaps, the steadings at Nunton. Either one could also simply be the outside security lighting for someone’s house – a more accurate description is pending better weather.

It’s not been a great summer so far to be honest and, now the days are starting to slip away (via later sunrises; at my end of the day the sun continues to set at precisely 2231 for another week or so yet), it’s impossible to escape the thought that summer is, too. G**gle’s StreetView car – spotted near these parts last week – probably won’t be picking up enough sunshine to be enticing the tourists, as much as some photos (its last visit was 2009) do need updating. This morning was again damp and cool, and, at 12C at 0930 yet ‘feeling like’ something in single figures, there was even a chill in the air ahead of further rain early this afternoon. With the rest of the country – even mainland Scotland – basking/sweltering in temperatures in the mid to high 20s, out here we have yet to see a temperature over 20C and the late spring and early summer, after a very decent April, have been disappointing. There’s a long way to go yet, of course – it’s probably the lack of realisation of that early promise which has made the position seem more gloomy – but the thought of an actual summer seems a long way away.

There may be a further report.

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