In most of the time zones on earth, 21 December is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are a few things which you might know about the December Solstice.
- The Winter Solstice also known as the December solstice happens in the Northern Hemisphere and the Summer solstice happens in the southern hemisphere which marks the longest day of the year, in relation to the sunlight.
- Solstices take place twice every year. it happens firstly around 21 June and then re occurs around the 21st of December. The June Solstice has the sun directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere. The December or winter solstice has the sun directly above the tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere.
- The solstice occurs at a celebrated time and the perception that most people have that it is to be celebrated for the whole day is actually wrong. The solstice is only the time when the sun is directly above one of the tropics. In 2015 it will occur on 22 December at 04:48 UTC, for all the locations which are at least 5 hours behind UTC time, the event will occur on 21st December.
- The solstice dates are not always the same and they may vary a few days with each passing year. The solstice can happen between the 20th till the 23rd although solstices between 20th and 23rd December are rare.
- The term, solstice, is derived from the Latin word, solstitium which actually means “the sun standing still” this is due to the fact that on this day the sun reaches the south most region of earth, or northern most during the Summer solstice and then reverses the direction of its course. Some places even call it the day the Sun turns around.
- It is the start of the astronomical winter. In the northern hemisphere, scientists and astronomers use this December solstice as the beginning of winter, which ends with the March Equinox. Meteorologists however, consider winter begins on the first of December.
- The earliest sunset does not happen on Solstice day. in most of the places in the northern hemisphere it is easy to see the earliest sunset just a few days before the actual solstice and then the latest sunrise occurs right after the solstice. This takes place due to the fact that there is a difference in how we measure time by the use of watches and by the use of the ancient sundial.
- The daylight hours in the northern latitudes increase quickly. If you are located in the northern hemisphere, the rate of increase in daylight hours actually depends to your specific location or latitude. In the more northern latitudes, it is easy to see a far more rapid increase in the hours of daylight in comparison to those who are located in the southern latitudes of the northern hemisphere.
- Many cultures around the world hold feasts and consider it a holiday on the December solstice.
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