Top 6 Winter Solstice Facts in SIX Minutes

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Wanna know why my top 6 winter solstice facts are better than yours? IF, YES, then you are at the right place at the right time. Well, there are two types of solstices. Summer solstice that brings the summer season.

On the other hand, the winter solstice brings the winter season. However, in this exclusive article, we are only interested in the winter solstice that is also known as the official first day of winter. SO, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive right in!!!

 

Top 6 Winter Solstice Facts in SIX Minutes

If you think that you already knew about these top 6 exclusive facts about the winter solstice, well, here is your chance to think again!!!

  • Occurs two times in a calendar year
  • Marks the shortest and the darkest day of the year
  • Winter Solstice – the first day of winter or mid-winter?
  • Even the sun standstill on the eve of the winter solstice
  • Days get longer after the winter solstice.
  • Every few years, the winter solstice date varies

 

Occurs two times in a calendar year

Yup, you heard me right. Just because the earth has two hemispheres (northern and southern hemispheres), the Winter solstice occurs two times in a calendar year. In fact, one of the most exclusive facts about the winter solstice is that in the earth’s northern areas, it occurs in the month of December.

While in the earth’s southern hemisphere, it occurs in the month of June. Now, the question arises that why there is a mismatch between the north and south? Let’s find out…!!!

It’s the Earth’s Tilt

Just because the earth has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees, there is a 6 month of seasonal gap between the earth’s northern and southern areas. Such that when there is summer solstice in the northern hemisphere (June), there is a winter solstice in the southern hemisphere (June).

earth's-tilt-reason-for-seasons
Earth’s axial tilt (obliquity) is currently about 23.4°. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The vice-versa is applicable for the month of December. In addition, not only do we see different solstices in different hemispheres, but we also have this same effect with both types of Equinoxes too. To summarize, just because of the earth’s tilt, Equinoxes and solstices are opposite on opposite sides of the globe.

Editor’s Choice: Equinox vs Solstice – What’s the Difference?

 

Marks the shortest and the darkest day of the year

See, during the solstice, whichever hemisphere is at its maximum tilt away from the sun receives minimum sunlight. As a result, that hemisphere has the shortest as well as the darkest day of the year. Confused??? Okay. Let’s take an example to sort this out for you…!!!

earth's-illumination-during-different-season-in-different-hemisphere
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

During June Solstice, the north pole is at its maximum tilt towards the sun, therefore, half of the earth’s surface (northern hemisphere) receives maximum sunlight. Therefore, marking the brightest as well as the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. (See the above image for proper understanding).

At the same time, just because of the earth’s tilt, during June Solstice, the south pole is at its maximum tilt away from the sun. Therefore, half of the earth’s surface (southern hemisphere) receives minimum sunlight. Therefore, marking the darkest as well as the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. That’s why the June solstice is officially known as the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

 

Winter Solstice – the first day of winter or mid-winter?

The very next one in my list of top 6 winter solstice facts is that for some people, it’s the first day of winter. And, for the others, it marks the end of the half of the winter season i.e mid-winter. Therefore, the question arises, which one of them is true? And, more importantly, which one of them is the correct one…!!!

In my view, both of them are correct, of course, as per their definition. See, as per the astronomical definition of the winter solstice, it marks the official arrival of the winter season. On the other hand, as per the meteorological definition of the winter solstice, it marks the end of the half of the winter or winter season i.e mid-winter.

Highly Recommended: December Solstice 2021: First Day of Winter in Northern Hemisphere

 

Even the sun standstill on the eve of the winter solstice

Just a small clarification, the sun doesn’t standstill. It just appears to do so. Okay. So don’t think otherwise. Moving ahead, as per the definition of the solstice, a Solstice is a day that occurs due to the sun’s changing path. And, when that happens, the sun appears to stand still and reverse its course of direction.

In fact, if we bifurcate the word solstice, it will itself explain all. The word solstice is made from two different words i.e Sol and Sistere. Just to mention, both are Latin words. The Sol means “Sun”. And, the word Sistere means “to stand still”. Just add them together, you will get the view.

Check Out: December Solstice: First Day of Summer in Southern Hemisphere

 

Days get longer after the winter solstice

The very next one in my list of top 6 winter solstice facts is that the days get longer after the occurrence of the winter solstice. Again, one clarification. This fact is only valid if we are talking in terms of the meteorological definition.

Since the winter solstice has already marked the shortest day of the year. Therefore, when the sun changes its path, days get longer with each passing day. This process of longer days will continue till the next solstice.

Latest: September Equinox 2021 – First Day of Spring in Southern Hemisphere

 

Every few years, the winter solstice date varies

Last but not least one of my list of winter solstice facts is that its date varies. Yup, you heard me right. See, after every four years, there is a leap year. Therefore, in order to adjust the Gregorian Calendar with the eve of the winter solstice, a solstice date varies.

For example, In 2020, the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurred on the 20th of June. But this year i.e 2021, it will occur on the 21st of June. Not to mention, there are some other factors too, that contribute to the variation in the dates of the Winter solstice. But, just to make things simple, I am just neglecting them.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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