The longest days of the year are December 20-23. Otherwise known as the winter solstice, this three-day period also represents the first astronomical day of winter. However, cold temperatures in this region commence before the solstice.
The two yearly solstices and equinoxes are a result of the planet’s 23.5° axial tilt, according to National Geographic. This tilt causes either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere to lean towards the sun and collect more sun rays than the normal amount (a solstice). On the other hand, National Geographic states that in an equinox, the sun is parallel with the Earth’s equator (or 0° latitude).
Although commonly referred to as the general “winter solstice” (In December in the Northern Hemisphere), this event is more correctly called the December solstice. As stated in National Geographic, this is because, “The December solstice is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern.” Therefore, the “summer solstice” is also named the July solstice.
Additionally, Stemjobs.com reports, “… [solstice] is derived from Latin and means ‘sun stands still’.” Many historic and famous landmarks highlight this solstice quality. For instance, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. As explained by Stemjobs.com, “… the sun perfectly aligns with what are known as the central Altar stone and the Slaughter stone when the sun sets on the winter solstice.” Judging by the fact that Stonehenge alone was likely built in the years 3000 B.C.E. and 2000 B.C.E., people have adored the solstice for a long time.
By: Peyton Erb
Photo Credits: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/