Welcome to winter, the longest night of the year

Welcome to winter, the longest night of the year

Welcome to winter, the longest night of the year

For the past six months, the days have gotten shorter and the nights have grown longer.

The annual pagan celebration, also known as midwinter, signifies the astrological start of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Starting Friday, the sun spends a few more seconds above the horizon each day. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Why isn't the winter solstice on the same day each year?

We tend to acknowledge the entire day as the solstice; but in actuality, the solstice happens at one specific point: when the sun is exactly overhead the Tropic of Cancer.

Each year, the OPW runs a Winter Solstice Lottery - in 2017, it says, over 33,000 people applied from as far afield as Austria, Italy and the US. Eastern Time on December 21.

December 21 is the turning point of the year. There is actually a lag between the shortest day of the year and the coldest average temperatures, the National Weather Service reports.

The amount of daylight you'll see on the solstice depends on your latitude, or distance from the equator. Daylight lasted for just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds, according to BBC. In Washington, D.C., the sun is up for 9 hours 26 minutes (rising at 7:23 a.m. and setting at 4:49 p.m.).

EarthSky said: "You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon".

Reaching the floor of the chamber, the beam of light gradually widens as the sun rises until the whole room is illuminated. This will give us our longest day. For a complete listing of the dates of the winter and summer solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes through 2025, check out this calendar from the U.S. Naval Observatory. However, it's never the day of the latest sunrise or earliest sunset. But the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and receives less solar energy.

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