It’s referred to as Yule, Midwinter or The Longest Night… but you may recognize it by a more popular name, The Winter Solstice.
Even though we celebrate the day, it’s a particular moment that is the actual solstice. This year that moment happens Saturday, December 21st at 10:19 PM. That’s when the sun’s rays are directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Which is why the Southern Hemisphere is going into their Summer season… or their Summer Solstice.
This is also why we have the lowest sun angles of the year. They’re mostly concentrated over the Southern Hemisphere. So the sun will be the lowest in the southern sky for us.
This is the shortest day of the year so we only have 8 hours and 32 seconds of daylight. That’s less than a second shaved off from the previous day… and less than a second shorter than the day after.
Here are a few Winter Solstice facts you may not know. It’s believed that Stone Henge was built and aligned with the sunset on the Winter Solstice.
The word “solstice” in Latin means “sun stands still”… and that makes sense. The sun’s angles are lower and don’t move as much or get as high as they do in the Summer.
Since the sun’s angles are so low this time of year, we’re not getting as much solar heat but the average daytime high will continue to cool until early to mid-January… and again, that’s the AVERAGE high… the second part of Winter can be colder mainly because arctic outbreaks are much more common then.
The date of the Winter Solstice can be anywhere from December 20th to the 23rd. However, it’s rare for it to happen as early as the 20th or as late as the 23rd. In fact, the last time we had the solstice on December 23rd was in 1903. The next time won’t be until 2303.