Breakdown: The Winter Solstice is coming, here’s why

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 3:05 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 6:22 AM CST
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(WMC) Memphis - The Winter Solstice will arrive officially on Dec. 21 at 9:59 a.m. This exact time of 9:59 a.m. is when the sun reaches its southernmost point. On the winter solstice, during the day, the Northern Hemisphere will only have 8 hours and 46 minutes of daylight. The winter solstice also is the time when Earth’s axis will be tilted furthest away from the sun. This year’s winter solstice is super cool because it coincides with the day when Jupiter and Saturn will appear to almost touch in an event called the great conjunction. Although we celebrate it for a day, it happens only for a moment.

So while the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year, the Summer Solstice marks the longest period of sunlight. After the Summer Solstice, the days get shorter each day and in winter the days become longer after the Winter Solstice and the sun is at its most southern point versus during the Summer Solstice, the sun appears at its most northerly in the sky.

The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere usually happens on the 21st or 22nd of December according to NASA. After we hit the solstice, the days are longer and longer until we get to the Summer Solstice, or the June Solstice, which is the longest day of the year.

The change of seasons is mostly due to Earth’s position around the sun and its axis. The light from the sun isn’t evenly distributed across the surface of the Earth. The planet’s tilt means some areas of our world get more sunlight at different times of the year. Earth’s axis has an approximately 23-degree tilt and without this, our planet would not have seasons at all. The axial tilt of the Earth means that as our planet’s journey around the sun means different areas of the planet experience varying degrees of sunlight.

While the Winter Solstice is occurring on Dec. 21, 2021, in the Northern Hemisphere, this date will mark the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

The significance of the Winter Solstice to our ancestors was likely a result of it meaning the lengthening of days, which lead to a time that they thought of as a time of rebirth. There are an abundance of Winter Solstice celebrations and festivals.

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