Winter Solstice 2009: First Day of Winter

Winter Solstice 2009

Winter Solstice 2009 takes place today, December 21, at precisely 12:47 p.m. EST, or 17:47 UTC. This astronomical event takes place exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23of 23° 26′. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs some time between December 21 and December 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere.

Winter Solstice is also colloquially used like “Midwinter” to refer to the day on which it occurs. This phenomenon is commonly known as the shortest day and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest for most people in the high latitude part of the earth. It is also the shortest day or lowest sun position for people in low latitudes located between the Tropic of Cancer (23°26’N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26’S).

The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.

The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin phrase the “sun stands still,” and its history goes back to ancient times, when special ceremonies and Yule festivals were held, according to National Geographic.

[image via Wikipedia]