Monday, September 15, 2014

Photo Fun with the Tropical Sun

One fun thing about living in the tropics is how there are days when the sun is directly overhead. When it happens is a function of your latitude, but if you live between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, two days of the year the sun shines straight down around noon (exact time dependent on your longitude).

In Hawaii there's a local term (of comparatively modern origin) for it, Lahaina Noon. Lā hainā means “cruel sun” in Hawaiian (it's also the name of a town on Maui named for its famously dry and hot climate). There's a colorful ancient Hawaiian phrase for the time of noon generally, kau ka lā i ka lolo, an idiom that translated literally means “the sun rests on the brains.”

I unfortunately never seem to get around to actually going out and looking when it happens (in Hilo, the Lahaina Noon days are in May and July), but even now in September the sun still stands very nearly straight up in the sky around noon. I happened to notice the neat shadows it produced on the sign at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory building across the street one day, and decided it was worth a picture:

According to the timestamp, this picture was taken at 12:41:44 PM on September 5th, 2014. In case you can't tell from the picture the letters are small metal shapes protruding out from the wall on little supports, which allows this neat interplay of light and shadow. Just another fun feature of living in the tropics. A hui hou!


  1. That's a great photo. You may have just created a new font.

    1. Thanks. If you want to take a crack at making it, be my guest.


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