Summer Solstice in a Half-Tropical Island
21/06/14 13:24 Filed in: Navigation
Those who have been to the Southern Exumas in the Bahamas know it’s a special place. Warm “tropical” climate, blue waters, lovely white sand and friendly people. But on the Summer Solstice these islands are even more special as they highlight the fact we are “not quite” in the tropics.
June 21 2014 is the Summer Solstice - the point where the sun stops moving north and starts moving back south again. (The word solstice is from the Latin for "sun-stopping"). This northern-most point is marked by a line of latitude known as the Tropic of Cancer and passes right through the south end of Great Exuma. That's just 2-3 miles from where we are anchored in Exuma Harbour today.
So are we in the tropics? Well, literally, no we are not as we sit anchored off George Town. The Tropic of Cancer is just slightly south of here so most of Great Exuma is not in the tropics. But the southern tip of the island is. So it’s a half-tropical island. (The term semi-tropical refers to climate conditions rather than astronomical position.)
This anchorage at White Cay is just 1 mile south of the tropic. So if we anchored here we would see the sun very slightly north of us today at noon.
FYI Here is a nice site with more technical information if you like.