Friday, May 22, 2009

Searching For Dusk

As long as I'm recommending websites, here's another handy one. Have you ever asked the Internet when "Dusk" will be? I just tried Googling "dusk in Houston" since we're going to a double bill of Star Trek and Night at the Museum 2 at the drive-in tonight (yes, we still go to drive-in movies in Texas). As it happens, this brings up page after page of evocative photos depicting sundown over Houston's proud buildings and mucky bayous, but no place telling me when dusk actually happens today.

Well, ok, there is one site and the intelligent and debonair Google puts it at the top of the results of my query. It's called Gaisma (Latvian for "light"), developed by a Finn named Matti Tukiainen. What is it with Finland, by the way? They produced Linus Torvalds too, father of the greatest computer operating system in the world and godfather of open source development, our only hope of salvation from corporate computer hegemony. IRC and MySQL (very important in my line of work) were also invented by Finns; the place is overflowing with famous sons and daughters.

Anyway, Gaisma is a website that tells you "Sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times around the World!" plus a lot more. They not only tell you when dusk is today, but when it will be 6 months from now. Handy diagrams and charts show you the sun's path through the sky and how much wind and rain you usually get. You have to drill down through continents and nations before you arrive at your information, but there's also a search feature that's more efficient.

But the main thing is they tell you when "dusk" is. Even my beloved Weather Underground doesn't tell me when "dusk" is -- although they do tell me when "Civil Twilight" happens, which is apparently only one minute different. Gaisma is going right next to the Weather Underground link on my browser, and just before the Space Weather button.

So my question is: If it's always darkest before the dawn, is it always brightest before the dusk?


Lowell said...

Well, if you're going to the Showboat, the gates open at 7 pm and as every veteran drive-in denizen will tell you, you have to get there early so you can park in the front row, spread out your lawn chairs and blankets and watch the bats chase mosquitos.

Dusk! Finns! Jim!

Pleonic said...

Yup, but first we have to stop at a cheap store and stock up on junky snacks! I'll let you know how the bats were (and if they tried to swipe any of my Cheetos).