What is the winter solstice? – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


Thursday will mark both the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — and the official start of winter.

Here’s what to know about the important annual markers:

WHAT IS WINTER SOLSTICE?

The winter solstice marks the point when the North Pole is at its furthest location away from the sun, creating the atmosphere for shorter hours of sunlight.

Though the day of the solstice is always marked, the solstice itself is only the moment that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted at its furthest point away from the sun.

As the solstice marks the changing of seasons, the event also holds significance to many cultures. Several ancient structures were built as ways to track the seasons, including Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland.

Additionally, the solstice can also be seen as the time in which the sun’s path reaches its most southerly point of the sky, with the opposite effect being witnessed in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the word solstice originates from the Latin words sol and sistere, translating to “sun” and “to stand still” respectively, loosely translating to “sun stand still.”

WHEN IS THE 2023 WINTER SOLSTICE?

This year’s winter solstice will occur at 9:27 p.m. CST. on Thursday, Dec. 21, marking the official start of winter.

Though the day of the solstice is always marked, the solstice itself is only the moment that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted at its furthest point away from the sun.

WHEN IS THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER?

After the winter solstice concludes, the sun begins to advance northward all the way up until the summer solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere, marking when the sun is most closely tilted to the hemisphere.

While the solstice and shortest day of the year will both occur on Dec. 21, the following day is recognized as the first full day of winter.

WHEN ARE THE NEXT ASTRONOMICAL SEASON CHANGES?

Below is a list of the astronomical season changes we can expect to see following the upcoming winter solstice:

  • Vernal Equinox (Spring): March 19, 2024, 10:06 p.m.
  • Summer Solstice (Summer): June 20, 2024, 3:50 p.m.
  • Autumnal Equinox (Fall): Sep. 22, 2024, 7:43 a.m.



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