Check this out … the Breathing Earth. It’s a year of seasonal transformations on our planet. John Nelson created this animation, using images from the NASA Visible Earth team. Read more about the animation via John Nelson.
Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest nights and shortest days of the year.
Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere is having short nights and long days.
The 2019 December solstice moment – when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky – happens Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (that’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time).
No matter where you live on Earth’s globe – no matter what time the solstice happens for you – it’s your signal to celebrate.
EarthSky lunar calendars are cool! They make great gifts. Order now. Going fast!
View larger. | Ian Hennes in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, created this solargraph between a June solstice and a December solstice. It shows the path of the sun during that time period. Thank you, Ian!
Sunlight on Earth, at the December solstice. North Pole in 24-hour darkness; South Pole in 24-hour daylight. Gif via Wikimedia Commons.
When is the solstice? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2019, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST.
That’s on December 22 at 04:19 Universal Time (UTC). It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year.
At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.
To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.
Just remember: you’re translating from 04:19 UTC on December 22. For example, if you live in Perth, Australia, you need to add 8 hours to Universal Time to find out that the solstice happens on Sunday, December 22, at 12:19 p.m. AWST (Australian Western Standard Time).
Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2019 solstice (December 22, 2019, at 04:19 UTC). Image via EarthView.
What is a solstice? The earliest people on Earth knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments such as Stonehenge in England – or, for example, at Machu Picchu in Peru – to follow the sun’s yearly progress.
But we today see the solstice differently. We can picture it from the vantage point of space. Today, we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.
Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.
At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the North Pole horizon.
As seen from 23 1/2 degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets.
All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.
For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun. Image via NASA.
Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere.
For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of all light and warmth on Earth.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can notice the late dawns and early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon. And be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s opposite. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high. It’s your shortest noontime shadow of the year.
Around the time of the winter solstice, watch for late dawns, early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Notice your noontime shadow, the longest of the year. Photo via Serge Arsenie on Flickr.
Meanwhile, at the summer solstice, noontime shadows are short. Photo via the Slam Summer Beach Volleyball festival in Australia.
Why doesn’t the earliest sunset come on the shortest day? The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. But the earliest sunset – or earliest sunrise if you’re south of the equator – happens before the December solstice. Many people notice this, and ask about it.
The key to understanding the earliest sunset is not to focus on the time of sunset or sunrise. The key is to focus on what is called true solar noon – the time of day that the sun reaches its highest point in its journey across your sky.
In early December, true solar noon comes nearly 10 minutes earlier by the clock than it does at the solstice around December 22. With true noon coming later on the solstice, so will the sunrise and sunset times.
It’s this discrepancy between clock time and sun time that causes the Northern Hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the Southern Hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice.
The discrepancy occurs primarily because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A secondary but another contributing factor to this discrepancy between clock noon and sun noon comes from the Earth’s elliptical – oblong – orbit around the sun. The Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we’re closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit.
Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes in early January. So we are moving fastest in orbit around now, slightly faster than our average speed of about 18.5 miles per second (30 kilometers per second).
The discrepancy between sun time and clock time is greater around the December solstice than the June solstice because we’re nearer the sun at this time of year.
Solstice sunsets, showing the sun’s position on the local horizon at December 2015 (left) and June 2016 (right) solstices from Mutare, Zimbabwe, via Peter Lowenstein.
The precise date of the earliest sunset depends on your latitude. At mid-northern latitudes, it comes in early December each year. At northern temperate latitudes farther north – such as in Canada and Alaska – the year’s earliest sunset comes around mid-December. Close to the Arctic Circle, the earliest sunset and the December solstice occur on or near the same day.
By the way, the latest sunrise doesn’t come on the solstice either. From mid-northern latitudes, the latest sunrise comes in early January.
The exact dates vary, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, shortest day on the solstice around December 22, latest sunrise in early January.
And so the cycle continues.
Solstice Pyrotechnics II by groovehouse on Flickr.
Bottom line: The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (that’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time). It marks the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day (first day of winter) and Southern Hemisphere’s longest day (first day of summer). Happy solstice, everyone!
How much daylight have we lost since the Summer Solstice?
How many minutes of daylight have we lost since the Summer Solstice?
The Summer Solstice which occurred on Friday, June 21 at 11:54 a.m. This is the longest day of the year in terms of daylight. Here in Columbus we receive 14 hours, 17 minutes and 3 seconds of daylight on that day.
The sun rises at 6:33 a.m. and the sun set at 8:50 p.m. on June 21.
How much daylight have we lost since then?
For Wednesday, August 15, the sun rises in Columbus at 7:03 a.m. and the sun sets at 8:24 p.m. This gives us a total amount of daylight for that day at 13 hours, 20 minutes and 32 seconds. After a few simple math calculations, we have lost a total of 57 minutes to darkness.
This simple calculation can be done for the entire period where we are losing daylight every day until the Winter Solstice, known for being the shortest day of the year.
Taking data from June 21 again, the amount of daylight we receive is 14 hours, 17 minutes and 3 seconds.
For the Winter Solstice, which occurs Friday, December 21 at 5:23 p.m. we receive a total amount of daylight at 10 hours, 1 minute and 5 seconds.
Calculating that, from the start of summer to the start of winter, here in Columbus we lose 256 minutes (4 hours and 16 minutes) to darkness over this period from June to December.
During the months of September and October we are constantly losing roughly 2 minutes per day as we near the Autumnal Equinox which we receive “equal” amount of daylight and darkness.
You might ask yourself, how does Daylight Saving Time play a role into this? While Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 4 it doesn’t effect the amount of daylight.
Daylight Saving Time only changes the time at which the sun will rise and set by falling back an hour. The amount of daylight is unchanged; however, with the change in time more light will be available in the morning.
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Hours of Daylight
Home Page » Living in Yukon » About Yukon » Hours of Daylight
The entire Yukon territory averages 1870 hours and 262 days with bright sunshine a year
Sunrise and Sunset Standard Times
- *Source: National Research Council of Canada
- The SUNRISE-SUNSET table gives the following times for each day of the year.
- LOCAL NOON occurs when the sun is due south, and highest in altitude above the horizon for that day. Local noon will generally differ from 12:00 because of:
- a longitude correction from the standard meridian of your time zone, and
- the correction to sundial, due to the sun's non-uniform eastward motion along the ecliptic throughout the year (which in turn arises from the earth's orbit about the sun being slightly eccentric, and inclined to the earth's equator)
- SUN RISE and SUN SET are the true rising and setting times.
- TWILIGHT START and TWILIGHT END times are tabulated for both Civil Twilight (when the centre of the sun's disk is 6 degrees below the horizon) and Nautical Twilight (sun 12 degrees below the horizon). For observatories, Astronomical Twilight (sun at 18 degrees below the horizon) as well as Nautical Twilight are tabulated.
Note that for extreme northern (or southern) latitudes, on the summer solstice the sun will not set above latitude 65.7 degrees, and Civil and Nautical twilights will not end above latitudes 60.6 degrees and 54.6 degrees respectively. At the winter solstice, sunrise will not occur above latitude 67.4 degrees. In such seasons and circumstances, times are not given in the table.
All the above values are tabulated in Standard Time; when Daylight Savings Time is in effect one hour must be added to all the above times in the sunrise-sunset table.
How Many Minutes of Daylight Do People Gain Each Day? – Reference.com
In January, each day gains between 90 seconds and two minutes of daylight. In February, about two and a half minutes of daylight are added each day.
As the sun moves higher in the sky from March through June, there are about two more minutes of daylight per day. To make matters complex, the higher a person's latitude ‰ÛÓ the distance from the earth's Equator ‰ÛÓ the longer the sun will appear to stay above the horizon, though it will appear very low in the sky, according to an article in the Washington Post.
The Sun's Ascent Brings More Daylight
The vernal equinox in March of every year to the summer solstice in June is the period of time when the sun begins its ascent from the lowest point in the southern sky.
As the sun climbs in the sky, the total daylight exposure that the Northern Hemisphere of the earth receives each day also increases. This is why the Northern Hemisphere experiences seasons opposite from when they occur in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is also why much of the United States observes Daylight Savings Time.
Daylight Savings Time Explained
Daylight Savings Time (DST) is a seasonal change in time where clocks are set ahead by one hour so that the sun rises and sets later ‰ÛÓ per the clock ‰ÛÓ than the day before. It's also called summer hours.
DST was established in the early 1900s, some say in Canada or Germany, while many say that Benjamin Franklin conceived the idea in an essay he wrote in 1784.
Its intention is to extend daylight as a way to make better use of daylight in warmer months to save energy by keeping the demand for electricity lower at night when most people are home. In theory, the amount of electricity used per day is supposed to decrease because people stay outdoors in longer daylight hours.
DST ends in the fall when the rationale is to help people and businesses by having more daylight available in the morning. Research about energy savings and DST can be controversial, indicating that there are benefits or no benefits, depending on the study.
DST is used in dozens of countries, but the date when it begins and ends varies by country, according to timeanddate.com. The phrase “Spring forward, fall back” was created to help people remember when DST begins and ends and which way the clock goes. In the spring, clocks are moved forward an hour to start DST. In the fall, clocks are moved back an hour when DST ends.
The Shortest Day of the Year
Typically in August, the daily rate of how many minutes of daylight lost begins to accelerate two minutes per day until the winter solstice, which occurs between December 20 and December 23. That is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the North Pole is tilted farthest from the sun, notes timeanddate.com.
The Longest Day of the Year
Areas south of the Antarctic Circle near the South Pole experience the midnight sun, which is 24 hours of daylight when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day of the year.
The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere arrives in the summer, which is also the hottest day of the year that sees the most sun on June 21.
That is when the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing its winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.
Six weeks after the shortest day, the sun rose 25 minutes earlier and set 56 minutes later. Why not an equal amount of time am and pm? | Notes and Queries | guardian.co.uk
Six weeks after the shortest day, the sun rose 25 minutes earlier and set 56 minutes later. Why not an equal amount of time am and pm?
- ALTHOUGH December 21 is the shortest day, the earliest sunset is about a week before and the latest sunrise about a week later. There is a similar pair of offsets for the longest day. An easily remembered approximation to the annual fluctuation of sunrise and sunset in London can be made as follows. Assume that no change occurs for one month either side of the earliest sunset (approximately 4 pm) and latest sunrise (8 am); similarly no change for a month either side of latest sunset (8 pm GMT) and earliest sunrise (4 am). That leaves four months for sunrise and sunset each to change by four hours. Assume that this occurs at a steady rate: about 15 minutes per week. Six weeks after the shortest day is five weeks after the latest sunrise. Therefore, according to the above approximation, this involves a month of no change and one week at the steady rate: 15 minutes. Similarly, seven weeks after the earliest sunset involves three weeks at the steady rate: 45 minutes. The actual changes given by the questioner are about 10 minutes greater (25 and 56 minutes), but the difference between the changes in sunrise and sunset predicted by the approximation (45-15=30 minutes) gives almost an exact match to the questioner's 56-25=31 minutes. Some corrections can be made for latitude and longitude: a slightly greater seasonal difference in day length at the latitude of the questioner (54deg N in Ripon, Yorkshire, compared to 51.5deg N for London). Also both sunrise and sunset will be about 7 minutes later than in London (1.5deg W of London) or 15 minutes later in Cardiff (3deg W). (Prof) Bill Mapleson, Cardiff ([email protected])
- WHAT HAS actually happened is that real noon has moved forward by about 15 minutes. Apparent noon (ie when the sun is at its highest point in the sky can move by as much as 17 minutes either side of noon as measured on a clock (known as Mean Solar Time). This caused by two things, the first is that Earth's orbit is an elipse, not a circle, this means that the angular velocity of earth is not constant. The second is that Earth is tilted at an angle of 23.25 degrees (which brings the seasons and explains why all globes are made at that funny angle) making days shorter on average at the equinoxes and longer than average at the solstices. Graham Sibley ([email protected]) ,
- AT THAT TIME of year the Earth is closer to the Sun than its mean distance. Therefore, it is moving faster in its orbit than its average speed (Kepler's Laws). Therefore when viewed at the same clock time each day, the Sun appears to be moving from right to left in the sky. This eastward shift of the real Sun compared with the position of the theoretical Mean Sun position causes a real lateness of the apparent “middle of the day” point of about 14 mins in mid February. This translates to a corresponding “relative lateness” of the times of sunrise and setting. The reverse is true during the time the Earth is greater than its average distance from the Sun. Astronomers would just say it's due to the Equation of Time. Gerry Bond, Reading Astronomical Society, Reading, Berks ([email protected])
- A FULL explanation can be found on the web at http://www.sundials.co.uk/equation.htm Maurice Childs, Bromley, Kent ([email protected])
What Is June Solstice?
Position of Earth in relation to the Sun during the June solstice (not to scale).
- The date varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year, and the local time zone.
- June Solstice in Moscow, Moscow, Russia is onвоскресенье 21 июнь 2020 г. 00:43 MSK (Change city)
- June Solstice in Universal Coordinated Time is onсуббота 20 июнь 2020 г. 21:43 UTC
Zenith Furthest Away from the Equator
A solstice happens when the sun's zenith is at its furthest point from the equator. On the June solstice, it reaches its northernmost point and the Earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.4 degrees.
It's also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere.
11 Facts About the June Solstice
Meaning of Solstice
“Solstice” (Latin: “solstitium”) means sun-stopping. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set, stops and reverses direction after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, meaning it's visible in the sky for a longer period of time.
Although the June solstice marks the first day of astronomical summer, it's more common to use meteorological definitions of seasons, making the solstice midsummer or midwinter.
Astronomical terms & definitions
Stonehenge in England.
Solstices in Culture
- Over the centuries, the June solstice has inspired countless festivals, midsummer celebrations and religious holidays.
- One of the world's oldest evidence of the summer solstice's importance in culture is Stonehenge in England, a megalithic structure which clearly marks the moment of the June solstice.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, where the June solstice is known as the shortest day of the year, it marks the first day of astronomical winter, but the middle of winter in meteorological terms.
Midnight Sun or Polar Night?
- On the June solstice, the midnight sun is visible (weather permitting) throughout the night, in all areas from just south of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole.
- Sunrise and Sunset Times
- On the other side of the planet, south of the Antarctic Circle there's Polar Night, meaning no Sunlight at all, on the June solstice.
Solstice Dates Vary
Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22, depending on which time zone you're in. June 22 solstices are rare – the last June 22 solstice in UTC time took place in 1975 and there won't be another one until 2203.
The varying dates of the solstice are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar which has 365 days in a normal year and 366 days in a Leap Year.
A tropical year is the time it takes the Earth to orbit once around the Sun. It is around 365.242199 days long, but varies slightly from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth's axis (precession of the equinoxes), also contributes to the changing solstice dates.
Moving to Other Seasons
Equinoxes and solstices
After the June solstice, the sun follows a lower and lower path through the sky each day in the Northern Hemisphere until it reaches the point where the length of daylight is about 12 hours and eight to nine minutes in areas that are about 30 degrees north or south of the equator.
Areas 60 degrees north or south of the equator have daylight for about 12 hours and 16 minutes. This is the September Equinox, the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.
Earth does not move at a constant speed in its elliptical orbit. Therefore the seasons are not of equal length: the times taken for the sun to move from the March Equinox to the June solstice, to the September equinox, to the December solstice, and back to the March equinox are roughly 92.8, 93.6, 89.8 and 89.0 days respectively.
The consolation in the Northern Hemisphere is that spring and summer last longer than autumn and winter.
Topics: Astronomy, Sun, Seasons, Calendar, Solstice, Earth
Gaining and losing daylight in December
TUCSON, Ariz. — December is an interesting time of the year when it comes to the sun. The sun rises much later in the morning and sets much earlier in the evening. All indications that the winter solstice is near!
Many people believe the latest sunrise and earliest sunset times occur on the day of the winter solstice. This is not true! A closer look at sunrise and sunset times reveals a different story.
In Tucson, we actually see our earliest sunset times during the first week of December. Our latest sunrise times occur the first week of January. All of this averages out to Dec.
21 as being the day with the least amount of daylight. So, we actually start gaining daylight in the afternoons before we reach the solstice.
However, we’re still losing daylight in the morning until the first week of January.
It’s interesting to note that we actually gain about seven minutes of afternoon daylight from the first week of December to Christmas. From Christmas to the first week of January, we lose an additional three minutes of daylight in the morning.
Those who pay close attention will notice the sun going down later by the time Christmas arrives. By the time we get to mid-January, we will start gaining daylight at a faster rate as we work our way back to spring.