5 Facts About the Winter Solstice You Probably Didn't Know

Renowned local astronomer Bob Berman sets us straight on the subject.

1. The Winter Solstice occurs this year at exactly 5:23 p.m. on December 21 in the Hudson Valley.

That’s when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the southernmost latitude it will reach in relation to Earth.


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2. The total minutes of sunshine on that day are at a minimum, but it is not the darkest day of the year.

That occurs December 7, when the sun will set at its earliest time. The difference is due to our habit of keeping time with a clock, instead of a handy sundial — which more closely marks time in relation to the earth’s orbit.


3. You’ll see super-long shadows at high noon on December 21.

At its highest point that day, the sun will only be about 20 degrees above the horizon.

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4. “Solstice” comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning “the Sun stands still.”

When the Sun reaches its southernmost position, as seen from the Earth, it seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverse its direction.


5. From now, the days will grow longer.

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Yes, the winter freeze is just beginning, but the span between sunrise/sunset will stretch a little further each day.

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