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Winter Solstice Marks First Day of Winter

Here are five must-know facts about the solstice, why it occurs and its history. Astronomical winter will arrive Monday night with the Winter Solstice.

Christmas has become associated with winter solstice, which serves as a turning point in the year in many cultures.

The solstice occurs when the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth is at its farthest from the sun.

After this date, the days start getting longer. Although, the Winter Solstice marks the lowest exposure of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to the Sun’s heating radiation, the oceans are still warm in the Northern Hemisphere from the summertime, and that delays the peak heat by about a month and a half.

It’s the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, where December 21 marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of astronomical summer.

Not to be confused by the meteorological first day of winter, which is the first day of December and last until the last day of February, the Winter Solstice is determined by the angle of the sun in the sky in relation to the earth’s tilt and orbit. There is a lag between the shortest day of the year and the coldest average temperatures for most spots in the USA. In Chicago, it’s January 17-20, and in Miami, it’s January 2-22. The axis of the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane. It’s because the Sun’s direct rays are shining in the Southern Hemisphere that is colder here in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s probably the result of collisions with various proto-planets and other massive objects during the formation of the solar system billions of years ago, according to NASA.

In the meantime, happy solstice!

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