|Solstice sunset by fdcomite @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/2129306470/|
December 22, 2012
The winter solstice occurs once every year when the sun appears at its lowest altitude with a southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. Another way to state the occurrence is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. The effect of this yearly event causes the earth to experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. The winter solstices usually occurs between December 20th to December 23rd. Anyone living north of the North Pole are unable to see daylight during the Winter Solstice.
|Earth-Lighting-Winter Solstice by Blueshade|
Even though the Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year it doesn't mean it is the coldest day. According to National Geographic, "Because the oceans are slow to heat and cool, in December the seas still retain some warmth from summer, delaying the coldest of winter days for another month and a half." The day after the Winter Solstice the days begin to lengthen until the Summer Solstice, which is the the brightest day of the year.
The Winter Solstice has been observed since the Neolithic times. Prehistoric monuments such as Ireland's New Grange and England's Stonehenge were set up capture the Winter Solstice light. The Winter Solstice has been observed by many cultures throughout the world. You can learn more by visiting these links: