Q&A: Questions to Start the New Year

The graphic is “Father Time and Baby New Year” from Frolic & Fun (author unknown), published in 1897. Father Time was one of the earliest New Year icons among dozens now used in the media. I needed some kind of graphic for today’s post, and this one seemed on-topic. Click to see the full-size version.

First, Happy New Year to my readers! This time of year, every year, I get a lot of the same questions. So I thought I’d present you with a “year-end FAQ” of sorts showcasing those common queries. As a bonus, I get a brief vacation from writing over the holidays. The posts I selected are all reprints.

So pick and choose what interests you, or settle in and read them all — if you haven’t already. I bid you peace and health for the holidays and beyond. May all your night lights be billions of miles away.

Why the Year Starts on January 1st: This is a frequently asked question. The answer is simple.
Why There Are Leap Years
: Why do some years (like 2020) have 366 days and others (like 2021) have 365 days?

Leap Seconds: On December 31 scientists add “leap seconds” to the official time. Why do they do that?
The Winter Solstice: It happened in December, but was there anything to actually see when it happened?
Buying and Naming Your Own Star: Did someone buy you a star for Christmas? Is this for real? Is it legal?
Earth at Perihelion: You may have heard Earth will reach perihelion on January 3-4. So what?

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If you’re looking for more reading material I’d suggest another series of posts. These address various impacts of climate change. Over the last few years I’ve been getting a lot of questions on that topic. These posts will bring you up to date on the science of climatology (the last 8 were added since last year). If this topic is new to you, I suggest you start with the first post and work your way down:

The difference Between Weather and Climate – Part 1: Any student of climate change needs to start here.
The difference Between Weather and Climate – Part 2: There is a significant difference.
The difference Between Weather and Climate – Part 3: Now you know.
Anatomy of a Storm Surge: Why hurricanes are getting worse.
If All Earth’s Ice Melted: What would the world look like?
Wind Power is Inexhaustible: Don’t believe what you hear about wind power.
Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise – Part 1: Hot water gets bigger.
Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise – Part 2: Hotter water gets bigger faster.
The Gravity of Melting Glaciers: Horizontal gravity resists sea level rise — until the glacier melts.
Ocean Surge vs. Mississippi River: What happens when hurricanes overwhelm rivers.
How Glaciers Melt: Watch a glacier in Greenland feeding sea level rise.
Nuking a Hurricane: Why this wouldn’t work.
Climate 100 Years From Now: My predictions.
Great Lakes Water Levels – Part 1: Strange happenings in the Midwest.
Great Lakes Water Levels – Part 2: Is this the new normal?


Two Good Things About Wildfires: Amongst a hundred bad things.
The Polar Vortex: You’ve heard about it, now see it from space.
Wildfires and Air Quality: And here’s some of those bad things.
Heat Domes: The “opposite” of a polar vortex.
The Atlantic Overturning Meridional Circulation: One way the oceans affect climate.
How Drought and Extreme Rainfall Coexist: Not at all paradoxical when you understand the science.
Deadpool at Hoover Dam: The American West is running out of water.
Atmospheric Rivers: They can carry more water than the Mississippi River.

Next week we’ll be back to our usual single-topic format for Sky Lights. Our first post of the New Year will investigate some speedy poultry.

Next Week in Sky Lights ⇒ The World’s Fastest Chicken

Q&A: Santa's Sleigh Sighted?
The World's Fastest Chicken