Christmas is on the way, but before we celebrate that we can celebrate the December solstice. In case you didn’t know, the solstice will occur on December 21. For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. How does that happen? Read on to find out:
What Happens During a Solstice?
A solstice is an astronomical event caused by the Earth’s tilt on axis and its motion in orbit. The Earth is tilted on its axis by 23 ½ degrees. This tilt is what causes the seasons because the Northern and Southern hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. On December 21, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning more away from the sun than it has all year.
During the December solstice, the sun stays below the North Pole horizon. This means that for people south of the equator, the sun will shine directly overhead at noon – as far south the sun will ever get.
What To Look For in the Northern Hemisphere
The December solstice brings a late dawn and an early sunset. The sun will have a lower arc across the sky than on other days. Check out your shadow at noon because it’ll be the longest of the year.
What To Look For in the Southern Hemisphere
The opposite will happen in the Southern Hemisphere. The dawn occurs early and sunset or dusk will be later. The sun will also hang high in the sky. When you look at your shadow at noon, it will be the shortest of the year.
After the solstice, we can expect the days to get longer and the nights shorter.
Learn About More Astronomy News with SkyNews
SkyNews is a great resource if you want to learn more about the December solstice and astronomy news. Do you want to star gaze during the December solstice? SkyNews provides astronomy news and weekly sky guides. For example, you’ll be able to see Jupiter next to a waning crescent moon this week.
SkyNews also provides tips on how to observe the night sky and reviews on various stargazing products. Visit their website to learn more.
Story source: EarthSky
Featured image source: Time and Date