Happy Winter Solstice 2017

Happy Winter Solstice 2017

Thursday marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere - the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year that serves a reminder that brighter days with more sunshine are ahead.

The winter and summer solstices, along with the equinoxes, loom large in myth and folklore.

Today, the winter solstice, marks the first day of astronomical winter. And while today is not technically a holiday, it is the Winter Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere, and Google's Doodle did not forget to tell us.

"The winter solstice occurs at the moment the Earth's tilt away from the sun is at a maximum", Stephen Schneider told CBS News.

The Isles of Shetland and Orkney were treated to the stark contrast of a midday sun barely limping over the horizon before retreating back down to call it a day. The 23.5 degree tilt in Earth's axis of rotation creates a rise and fall appearance of the sun over the course of a year. But that's nearly a minute longer than the shortest solar day, which occurs in mid-September around the time of the equinox.

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The word "solstice" comes from the Latin words sol sistere, which means "sun standing still".

The Earth's North Pole will be tilted farthest from the sun at 11:27 a.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, according to the National Weather Service.

What is the winter solstice, and why do we have it?

HollywoodLifers, are you a winter person or a summer person? In other words, the sun reaches its southern-most position for those of us north of the equator. That doesn't really matter, so long as you're at an latitude with long summer days and short winter days. Our coldest time of the year is nearly a month later, around January 14 each year. In most locations across the USA, the minimum daily temperature occurs around two or three weeks later, in early to mid-January. The most well known is the celebration at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

However, most locations don't have their earliest sunset or latest sunrise on the solstice. "Ancient structures that allow you to track the shifting position of the sun between its extremes are found all over the world".

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