Winter solstice: Why is it the shortest day of the year?

Cristina Cross
December 24, 2018

That's because the final full moon of the year-known as the Cold Moon, or Full Cold Moon-comes on Saturday, technically at 12:49pm.

This year, 2018, the winter solstice occurs today (Dec. 21) at 2:23 p.m. PST.

The date marks the 24-hour period with the fewest hours of daylight in the year, which is why it is known as the shortest day and longest night. Meanwhile, Earth's rotation keeps the sun's heat even, sort of like a 7,917-mile-wide rotisserie chicken made of rock and a little water. This year the Winter Solstice will happen in Northern Hemisphere on Saturday, 22 December 2018 at 3:53 am.

Therefore, the most direct sunlight shifts between a band of latitudes, specifically between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, throughout the year, leading to the change of seasons seen in the middle and higher latitudes.

If the skies are clear at 3pm this afternoon - Friday 21st December - it is advised to head outside and enjoy the rare natural phenomenon.

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Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. We will also see our final meteor shower of the year. Meanwhile, the Northern Hemisphere is pointed away from the sun and catching much less radiation.

That tilt is about 23.45 degrees (for now), and it bathes different parts of the world with various intensities of light over the course of a year.

Winter solstice in India In India, we don't see a drastic difference in the lengths of the day and night. Tonight-and indeed tomorrow night-the moon will appear particularly round and full in the night sky near the constellation Orion.

Many festivals occurred around the winter solstice.

With all of this in mind, we hope that you ring in the solstice in a way that befits you and your family; perhaps burn a yule log, drink wine or beer, or have a steak.

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