Winter Solstice, December 21, 2018, Beginning of Winter
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December 21, 2018, marks the winter solstice of this year, with shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, with the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere being as tilted away from the sun as it will ever be,. It happens once a year in each hemisphere. The winter solstice is particularly special this year as the upcoming December full moon, named the Cold Moon, will be visible in the night sky along with the Ursid meteor shower. In the video “Full Moon and Unique Planet Alignment for Winter Solstice 2018“, below:
Excerpt from wikipedia on Winter Solstice, in italics, below:
The winter solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as the midwinter, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice.
The winter solstice occurs during the hemisphere’s winter. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the December solstice (21 or 22 December) and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice (20 or 21 June). Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment, the term sometimes refers to the day on which it occurs. Other names are “midwinter”, the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi), or the “shortest day”. Traditionally, in many temperate regions, the winter solstice is seen as the middle of winter, but today in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of winter. In meteorology, winter is reckoned as beginning about three weeks before the winter solstice.
Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. It marked the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.
Seasonal lag is the term relating the lag shift between the coldest winter weather, and the winter solstice. As latitude increases, midwinter correlates more closely with the winter solstice.
Although the instant of the solstice can be calculated, direct observation of the solstice by amateurs is impossible because the sun moves too slowly or appears to stand still (the meaning of “solstice”). However, by use of astronomical data tracking, the precise timing of its occurrence is now public knowledge. One cannot directly detect the precise instant of the solstice (by definition, one cannot observe that an object has stopped moving until one later observes that it has not moved further from the preceding spot, or that it has moved in the opposite direction). Further, to be precise to a single day, one must be able to observe a change in azimuth or elevation less than or equal to about 1/60 of the angular diameter of the sun. Observing that it occurred within a two-day period is easier, requiring an observation precision of only about 1/16 of the angular diameter of the sun. Thus, many observations are of the day of the solstice rather than the instant. This is often done by observing sunrise and sunset or using an astronomically aligned instrument that allows a ray of light to be cast on a certain point around that time. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates differ from winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit (see earliest and latest sunrise and sunset).
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