Winter Solstice 2023 Brings the Longest Night of the Year to Northern Hemisphere

Winter Solstice 2023 Brings the Longest Night of the Year to Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice marks the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest night of the year. This year, it will occur on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 10:27 p.m. Eastern Time. During the winter solstice, the sun shines directly down on the Tropic of Capricorn, latitude 23.43-degrees south, and the Northern Hemisphere is tilted the farthest away from the sun, resulting in the shortest day and longest night of the year. The word "solstice" is derived from sol, the Latin word for "sun," and sistere, which means "to stand still". The effect is an artifact brought about by the change of the seasons, which can be readily explained today by astronomers. Our planet is tilted on axis by 23.4-degrees. So, as Earth moves around the sun once each year, there comes a time when the sun shines more on the Northern Hemisphere.

Starting tomorrow, the length of daylight will begin to increase, imperceptibly at first, but a month from now, it will become obvious that the sun is rising earlier and setting later. However, there is an old saying: "As the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger". If the insolation, the total energy received from the sun, alone governed the temperature, we should now be experiencing the year's coldest weather.

The winter solstice has been recognized by ancient civilizations for thousands of years. Structures like Stonehenge and the Torreon in Machu Picchu, Peru, were designed to follow the sun's path relative to the Earth. In fact, it may very well be that our ways of celebrating the Christmas season can be traced back to the Saturnalia, whose origins came from the observance of the sun beginning its northward climb.

As the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger, but the winter solstice marks the beginning of the end of winter and the start of the gradual return of the sun.

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