Winter Solstice: When Is the Shortest Day of the Year?

by Shelby Scott
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Americans have been enduring historically warm temperatures across the country this season. However, now many others have again begun to see frigid over-night temperatures reappearing days before Christmas. With that, Outsiders everywhere prepare for the shortest night of the year, the annual Winter Solstice. And with that, we’re here to let you know when that is and when we will again see longer days.

Fortunately, the Winter Solstice will finally arrive this week, our shortest day of the year within reach. According to Fox News, Outsiders have barely 24 hours to wait until we see our shortest day of the year, taking place Tuesday this week, December 21st at 10:50 a.m. ET and 7:59 a.m. PT.

Unfortunately, we shouldn’t expect any grand astronomical displays. However, the Winter Solstice will leave Outsiders with the least amount of light all year. It then later leaves us in the longest night before the sun again lends us more of its bright glow.

Additionally, despite already cold temperatures, the Winter Solstice also marks the first official day of winter.

In further exploring the approaching solstice, the National Weather Service states, “In the Northern Hemisphere, it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5 [degrees] south of the equator and runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil, and northern South Africa.”

Overall, then, it’s our location in relation to the sun that serves as the main cause for Tuesday’s lack of daylight.

What to Know About the Winter Solstice

There’s no doubt the Winter Solstice boasts an intriguing, even mystical astronomical title. However, the winter solstice lacks in display what we find in other natural astronomical phenomena. An example might be found in the recently passed Geminids Meteor Shower which brought a multitude of bright-colored shooting stars blasting through our atmosphere and leaving Outsiders in wonder. However, there are some other important things to note about this upcoming annual occasion.

Foremost, while we welcome the Winter Solstice, those in the Southern Hemisphere plan to welcome their Summer Solstice; in contrast, their longest day of the year.

Further, Dr. Noah Petro, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the outlet the sun should be at its lowest point in the sky around noon on the 21st. In addition, Dr. Jackie Faherty from the American Museum of Natural History said the sun’s path during the winter solstice is “going to be the lowest you’ll ever see it.”

Interestingly, NASA further pointed out that while we experience the shortest day of the year on Tuesday, sunrise and sunset don’t necessarily correlate with the sun’s journey as we might expect. NASA explained “most places in the mid-latitudes see their earliest sunset two weeks before the solstice, while the latest sunrise is not until early January.”

Outsider.com