Winter Solstice celebrated atop Munson Mountain

Celebrating the return of the light

Eight years ago, the top of Munson Mountain was the site of a small gathering, waiting to observe the winter solstice.

That year marked the first observation after the installation of Penhenge.

Eight years later, 60 people climbed up the trail and gathered around the three stones set into the mountain.

“The solstice is when the sun is lowest in the sky, and the earth’s axis is pointed away from the sun at its maximum,” said Chris Purton. “This is the shortest day of the year. We’ve got this array of stones up here, loosely known as Penhenge, lined up to show where the sun will set for the solstices and the equinox.”

Purton, a retired astronomer from the Dominion Radio Observatory — as well as a number of his friends, co-workers, and astronomy enthusiasts — installed the stones that makeup Penhenge. Their placement was decided based on years of the group’s own observations of the solstices and equinox. A task made less easy with the movement of the solstice’s timing.

“Every year the solstice shifts about six hours. This year it was just about an hour ago; the actual moment of the solstice happened at 2:22. Winter has officially begun,” Purton said to laughter from the gathered crowd. “From here the days get longer. We’re into recovery mode now.”

The cloud cover this year unfortunately blocked a proper viewing of the sunset. Despite that, everyone cheered as Purton counted down the moments as the sun would have dipped below the mountains.

“I’m very happy to see all the people who made it here, even though we’ve had better years. At least it wasn’t snowing this time,” Purton said. “One of the things I’m appreciating more and more is that as we’re celebrating here, people all around the world are having observances and celebrations of some kind.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Like many in British Columbia, you may be worried about running into… Continue reading

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

NHL prospects returning to Penticton for Young Stars Classic

After a one-year absence the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic is returning… Continue reading

UPDATE: Australia wildfire event in Penticton cancelled

Mike Bridson has been fighting the fires in Australia, and returns to help more later this month

South Okanagan swimmers and coach off to Euro 2020 in Belgium

Three members of the KISU Swim Club are headed to Belgium to compete in the Euro 2020 meet

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Jagmeet Singh says NDP caucus will discuss whether to support new NAFTA

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said steps to ratify the new NAFTA are top of mind

Handmade shelters help house Salmon Arm’s large feral feline population

Shuswap Paws Rescue Society fixed and adopted out about 500 cats in 2019

Summerland taxes expected to rise by 4.0%

Increase to add an estimated $77.73 to typical tax bill

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Tourism visits to the Thompson/Okanagan up 18 per cent year-over-year

In 2019, almost 11.4 million people spent at least one night visiting the region

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Most Read