Shedding light on the winter solstice

Shedding light on the winter solstice

Darren Sullivan
December 24, 2017

Although the day symbolises the death of the old year, this is by no means a solemn occasion, with druids celebrating the renewal of life and rejoicing in a moment of seasonal rebirth. Learn more about the solstice and why it's not the coldest day of the year in our scientific guide below.

That means that December 21 will be the shortest day of the year, with the least amount of hours of sunlight.

The sun will be up for just about 9 hours and 24 minutes on Thursday, and in the days immediately before and after the solstice, too. It's the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the sun has officially reached its southernmost point as seen from Earth. For a complete listing of the dates of the winter and summer solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes through 2025, check out this calendar from the U.S.

The winter solstice occurs at the moment the Earth's tilt away from the sun is at a maximum.

Over on other side of the country, Los Angeles's winter solstice sunset will take place at 4:48 p.m. and will see nine hours and 55 minutes of daylight.

GETTY- STOCK IMAGEWinter Solstice 2017 There will be seven hours and 50 minutes of daylight today
GETTY- STOCK IMAGEWinter Solstice 2017 There will be seven hours and 50 minutes of daylight today

All this means the United Kingdom experienced a late sunrise at 8.04am this morning and will see an early sunset at 3.53pm this afternoon.

Dr O'Kelly is believed to have been the first human to witness the winter solstice from inside Newgrange in millennia. It happens because the amount of solar energy arriving at the ground is less than the amount leaving the earth for a few more weeks (a bit like a bank account that starts losing money when you make more withdrawals than deposits).

Noontime shadows on Thursday will be longest for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere because the sun doesn't rise as high in the sky.

If you don't like the cold, here's a silver lining: Whatever the rest of winter brings, daylight is once again on the upswing.

Gold coin found in Salvation Army kettle in Kentucky
The Salvation Army in Springfield says $350,000 is still needed to meet this year's Tree of Lights campaign goal. It is the last day of the campaign as the kettles aren't put out on Sundays.