The Northern Hemisphere’s winter season began on Dec. 1, 2021, while the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season began on Dec. 1, 2021. The December solstice, on the other hand, ushers in the astronomical winter and summer seasons for our planet’s two hemispheres, respectively. This will occur at 15:59 UTC on December 21, which is 9:59 a.m. CST in the United States.
Twice a year, the solstices occur. The summer (June) solstice occurs around June 20-21, and the winter (December) solstice occurs around December 21-22 in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun’s path appears to be farthest north or south at the solstice, depending on which half of the planet you’re on. Seasons change on Earth because it travels around the Sun with its axis slightly tilted.
The Earth’s axis can be visualised as an imaginary pole running from “top” to “bottom” through the centre of our planet. Every day, the Earth completes one complete rotation around this pole. It is for this reason that we have day and night.
Although the Earth’s tilt in relation to the plane of its orbit around the Sun is relatively constant (23.5), the Northern Hemisphere receives the most indirect sunlight at the December solstice, resulting in cooler temperatures. Summer is in the Southern Hemisphere because it receives the most direct sunlight, resulting in warmer temperatures. This effect reverses at the June solstice, with the Northern Hemisphere receiving the most direct sunlight and the Southern Hemisphere receiving the most indirect sunlight, resulting in cooler temperatures.
For locations in the northern half of the globe, such as the United States, the December solstice brings the shortest day and longest night of the year, while the southern half of the globe has the longest day and shortest night. As a result, all locations north of the equator experience daylengths that are less than 12 hours, while all locations south experience daylengths that are more than 12 hours.
The days will get longer and the nights will get shorter after the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere until the summer solstice on June 21, 2022, when things will reverse. The astronomical spring season will begin on March 20, 2022, with the September equinox on September 22, 2022, and the astronomical fall season will begin on September 22, 2022.
The Sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of sunrise and sunset all shifted in a predictable pattern throughout the year, according to ancient cultures. People also built monuments to track the Sun’s annual progress and predict its movements, such as Stonehenge in England and the Torreon in Machu Picchu, Peru.
Today, we know even more about the universe, and we recognise the solstice as an astronomical event brought about by the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the Sun.
This is your chance to celebrate the change of seasons, no matter where you are on the globe!