What exactly is the Winter Solstice?
Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us folks in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the same day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night.
The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest – 23.5 degrees – away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight to the Northern Hemisphere during the year.
This year the solstice is occurred this morning, Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.
The solstice can happen on December 20, 21, 22 or 23, though December 20 or 23 solstices are rare.
The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303!