Soak Up Sunlight: It's the Year's Shortest Day

The winter solstice is here
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2015 2:55 PM CST
People gather at the historic site of Stonehenge in southwest England to celebrate the winter solstice on Dec. 22, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ben Birchall/PA)
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(Newser) – Mondays always feel longer, but that's not the only reason today may be dragging. Yes, it's the winter solstice, meaning Northern Hemisphere residents will be tilted as far from the sun as they will be all year—so it's also the shortest day and the longest night, USA Today reports. Just how short a day? Nine hours and 15 minutes of daylight on the East Coast, per Time. The solstice, which happens everywhere on Earth at the same instant, will take place at 11:48pm EST, meaning some parts of the world—including Stonehenge, where there are usually wild solstice celebrations—will experience the solstice on Tuesday. In fact, due to the imprecise syncing of the solar year with the modern calendar, the winter solstice can actually take place anywhere between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23 (though those two dates are rare), the Telegraph reports.

That said, this kickoff of the North's astronomical winter (and the Southern Hemisphere's summer) isn't necessarily the coldest part of the year for those above the equator—as we learned when weather forecasters said this could be one of the warmest Christmas weeks on record. Days will once again grow longer starting Dec. 22, but Earth will still lag behind and continue to lose heat at a faster rate than it's taking it in from the sun; cities in the US typically don't start to warm up on average until at least the end of January, per USA Today. (Check out the Telegraph for some neat history on winter solstice celebrations.)

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