A KHAWAGA'S TALE: Here comes the sun

Peter A. Carrigan
5 Min Read

We are not only on the verge of a new leader of the free world, which should be known at breakfast on Wednesday morning, but we are on the verge of the cold weather too.

By my calculations it is just a little early yet to reach for the woollies, I think we have at least another week of temperatures in the high 20s.

A few Cairenes ran for their scarf last Monday, but it warmed up over the weekend. My prediction; the temperature will drop to the low 20s on Wednesday Nov. 12 and that will be it for the warming sun until mid-February.

Cairo is a slave to the sun and with the tilt of the Earth turned towards the southern hemisphere more and more, we are getting less and less sun each day and the nights are drawing in.

The sun is now tracking low across the southern sky, with the Dec. 21 solstice fast approaching, when it will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, and as we are just 7? N of the Tropic of Cancer, we are thus heading towards our shortest day.

You can visit the Tropic of Cancer, approximately 23.5? N, and south of Aswan. I’ve never been, but I suspect there is a line painted on the ground at Philae Temple, where you can witness the summer solstice on June 21.

So, give it another week, and the biggest influence over our climate will be too low in the sky to keep back the moist cool air seeping in from the Mediterranean. Then reach for the scarf and winter woollies.

Egypt is a bit of a paradise for the earth science boffin. There is a divergent plate boundary, where a rift has formed between Africa and the Arabian tectonic plates, which began to part about 30 million years ago.

Thirty million is not that long in geological time; in fact the rift that runs into East Africa is the youngest geological break-up on the planet, with the Red Sea continuing to widen about 2 cm per year.

In the mountains of South Sinai veins of basalt and other volcanic intrusion streak through the granite rock giving them a striped appearance. But allegedly traces of the once volcanic past exist in the hot springs in the caves at Jebel Musa and two warm mineral springs near Tor.

In Dahab, you can scuba dive through lava tubes and I remember the Canyon dive at the Blue Hole to be some type of hollowed out lava flow.

North of Sharm is a spectacular wide plain of course sand, which would be a great location for a western. The sand started as granite boulders which eroded down from the peaks of the high Sinai Mountains and flushed through the Waadis.

You can walk back up these Waadis that turn into a canyons, punctuated with Bedouin water wells, to St. Catherine’s Monastery in a few days if you’re so inclined.

Zamalek and Manial have been formed from river deposition and of course the Nile drops off its load in the delta, before yawning into the Mediterranean at Rashid, the mouth of the world’s longest river, east of Alexandria.

The Nile has changed course many times, and with the building of the Aswan Dam, it lost a number of large meanders, putting its title of longest river in the world up for debate in many corners of the globe.

One of the most famous earth science moments in history occurred in Egypt; when the Red Sea parted, giving the Israelites an escape route, then washed away the pursing Egyptian chariots.

Ancient propaganda? No, it must have been a Tsunami caused by an earthquake under the Mediterranean Sea, firstly sucking back the water, then delivering a tidal wave onto the coast and the coup de grâce to the Pharaoh.

You see its all about timing.

My favorite moment in Egypt was the total eclipse of the sun in El Saloum in 2006. As the sky turned black around noon and the temperature dropped dramatically, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

But the stars in general have a unique beauty in the Egyptian sky, where the constellations and the North Star are almost on show nightly.

You will have to see on Wednesday morning, if the Earth moves for you, but in the meantime, Egypt rocks!

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