Good morning! Here in Canada, it is the first day of winter, also known as the Winter or December Solstice. That being said, for this Whatever Wednesday I thought it would be interesting to look at six fun facts about the December Solstice that you may or may not already know. So here we go!
1. Summertime Solstice
In the Northern Hemisphere, the December Solstice is also the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. This may seem obvious, but we cannot forget about our other half. In the Southern Hemisphere, today is the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.
2. Timing is Everything
The whole day today is not the December Solstice. It actually occurs at a specific moment in time, when the Sun is exactly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn. Thus, this year the December Solstice is technically on December 21, 2016 at 10:44 (UTC).
3. Save the Date!
The December Solstice can happen on any date between December 20th to December 23rd. They rarely occur, though, on December 20th or 23rd. The last solstice on December 23rd was in 1903 and the next one will not happen until 2303!
4. An Astronomical Winter
In the Northern Hemisphere, astronomers and scientists use the December Solstice to mark the start of the winter season. For meteorologists, though, winter began three weeks ago on December 1st.
5. Sunrise & Sunset
The earliest sunset is actually not on the Solstice. (WHAT?!) In the Northern Hemisphere, most places see the earliest sunset a few days before the Solstice and their latest sunrise a few days after. This is due to a difference between how we measure time using clocks and how we measure it by a sundial.
6. Standing Still
“Solstice” comes from the Latin word solstitium, which means “the Sun stands still.” On this day, the Sun reaches the southern-most position that we can see from the Earth. Thus, the Sun seems to “stand still” at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverse its direction. For this reason, today is also known as the day that the Sun turns around.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed these fun facts about the December Solstice and possibility even learned something new! For more information about the December Solstice, check out this link here.
What did you learn today that you didn’t know before? Please feel free to share in the comments below! 🙂