The first sunrise of 2011 in Korea

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The tradition of going to see the first sunrise of the year (or at least trying to) is particularly popular in Korea, and since I live pretty close to the Han River (15 minutes walk away) we went to see it this morning. What was particularly striking about this morning is that before sunrise the crescent moon and Venus were also out, and very close together. Being particularly attached to Venus it's always sad when it disappears from the evening sky, but since I'm not a morning person at all I tend to forget that it's easily visible then too.

So why not just quickly go outside in the morning? Ah, it's not so simple as that. Going outside = waking up the cats, which then means about one to two hours of running around before they go back to sleep again. That usually means not being able to concentrate on other tasks such as writing here or studying, since a certain overweight cat hates it when someone is using the computer and ignoring him.

But I digress. The other interesting thing about the sun this morning is its position in comparison to the ramp leading down towards the river. Here's a view of the area from above:

I live near the circle on the left, the entrance to the river park is the circle on the right. Let's zoom in on the river:

The triangle-looking thing is the ramp leading down. The shortest part of the triangle is the staircase leading directly down, and the part extending to the left and right is a ramp for bicyclists and people in wheelchairs. What was interesting was the position of the sun, which was in the direction of the arrow; in other words, it was perfectly visible at any position on the ramp leading up. If it didn't coincide with the flow of the river one would think it was specifically designed to be an ideal viewing location of the sun at the solstice and new year, kind of in the way Stonehenge sometimes lines up with the sun at certain times of the year.

Anyway, if you can get out of the house during the morning without waking up cats or anyone else you may want to take a look at Venus as it's absolutely spectacular at the moment.

While we're on the subject, here's a thread from two weeks ago on Reddit started by someone who found out for the first time about how the cloudtops of Venus 50-60 km above the surface are the most earthlike part of the entire Solar System (besides Earth, of course). It really is a pity that so few people know that.

Perhaps a simple video on YouTube introducing the concept is in order.

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