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Five Facts About the Winter Solstice

At the winter solstice the Sun travels the shortest path through the sky, and that day therefore has the least daylight and the longest night. Here are five fun facts about the Winter Solstice:

  1. The Magic Moment: The winter solstice is not just a date on the calendar; it's a fleeting moment of cosmic alignment. On Friday, December 22nd at 03:27 GMT, the Sun will be directly above the Tropic of Capricorn, heralding the enchanting commencement of the solstice.

  2. The Sun Stands Still: The term "solstice" has Latin origins, specifically from "solstitium," meaning 'sun' and 'standstill.' This captures the mesmerizing pause in the Sun's apparent journey as it reaches the Tropic of Capricorn.

  3. Winter Begins: Beyond being the shortest day, the winter solstice officially launches winter in the astronomical calendar. Interestingly, meteorologically, winter has already begun three weeks prior.

  4. Nine Hours Darker: Familiar with the notion that the winter solstice brings the shortest day, but did you know it's nearly nine hours shorter than its summer counterpart? June's summer solstice boasts almost 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, while the winter solstice dwindles to a mere 7 hours and 50 minutes.

  5. The Earliest Sunset: Although it seems logical for the earliest sunset to coincide with the shortest day, a subtle quirk emerges. Due to the mismatch between our clocks and Earth's orbit, the earliest sunset actually occurs a few days earlier. This discrepancy arises from the fact that true solar noon precedes our clock's noon by about 10 minutes.


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