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Winter Solstice

December 4th 2014
By: Jon

The December solstice marks the longest night in the Northern hemisphere and the longest day in the Southern hemisphere.  It happens at the same time for everyone on earth – in 2014 it is December 21st 23:03 Universal Time.

The early people on Earth understood that sunrise and sunset shifted in a regular way during the year.  Monuments like Stonehenge in England and Machu Picchu in Peru were built to follow the sun’s yearly progress.

Now we are able to view the earth from space and understand that the solstice is an astronomical event which happens because of Earth’s tilt on its axis and movement around the sun

It is the tilt of Earth and not the distance from the sun which causes summer and winter.  Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5°.  Our Northern and Southern hemispheres swap places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth.  At the moment of the December solstice, the Northern hemisphere is tilted furthest away from the sun.
Whatever you feel about the winter and the short days, you can begin to enjoy longer days from the 22nd.  The science and technical details of the solstice and Earth’s movements can be appreciated further on a number of websites – the one we found which explained it the most clearly is EarthSky.org