Oy! Oy! - Pardon my Norwegian

Some items raised in readers' letters, starting with a correction to our piece on Shipping Areas:

From the Rev John Williams, West Wittering, Chichester:

"A bight is not a smooth stretch of coastline: it's another word for bay. German Bight is the wide bay formed by the coastlines of Jutland, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. Its name in German is "Deutsche Bucht", which very definitely means bay.

"And Utsire is not the Norwegian for island. That is "oy", connected linguistically with the English place-name suffix "-ey", as in Canvey, Selsey etc. Utsira is a small island off the West coast of Norway."

While grateful to accept that I can't tell my oy from my Utsire, I'm less convinced by bight. The Old English "byht" simply meant a bend, and a bight in a piece of string is any free curve. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary gives "a stretch of gently curving coastline" as one definition.

From KJ Teacher, East Finchley, London:

"For two or three weeks around the winter solstice the Sun both sets and rises each day at a later time. An equivalent situation occurs at the summer solstice, though here the period during which sunsets and sunrises move in the same direction is much shorter. I'd be fascinated to know why."

It's due to the difference between "Apparent Solar Time" (as read on a sundial) and "Mean Solar Time" (as seen on a clock). Because the Earth's orbit round the Sun is elliptical, and because of the tilt between the axis of the Earth's rotation and the plane of its solar orbit, the time from one sunrise to the next is not constant but varies from about 23 hours and 46 minutes to 24 hours and 16 minutes. Mean Solar time smooths out these differences. At their worst, sundials are 14 minutes slow in February and 16 minutes fast in November. The Sun's apparently both rising and setting later around the winter solstice is a symptom of the Earth's catching up with the clock. In summer, the discrepancy is not so wide, and the catching-up period does not take so long. If you want to set your sundial, do it round 15 April, 14 June, 1 September or 25 December - when Mean Solar Time and Apparent Solar Time coincide.

Steven Squires of Luton has sent us a photograph of an unusual rainbow: "... What puzzled me was the fact that the Sun was low in the sky and the curvature of the rainbow was away from the Sun rather than as a halo around it. The red of the rainbow was on the outer curve.

Red on the outer curve is a sign of a secondary rainbow, caused by a double reflection of the light inside each raindrop. These are very puzzling when you cannot see the primary rainbow. Even odder rainbows may be due to sunlight that is first reflected off the still surface of water, then refracted through raindrops.

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone