New Delhi: The universe has given us many miracles to experience. One such miracle is the winter solstice, which is also known as midwinter.
The winter solstice marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
This year, the December solstice happened to fall on Wednesday, December 21 at 10:44 GMT (Universal time).
Why does this happen? Well, the Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis. So, when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees and the North Pole is tilted farthest, that is 23.5 degrees, away from the sun, we receive the fewest hours of sunlight in the entire year. The Southern Hemisphere on the other hand, experiences the opposite effect, with people experiencing the longest day and shortest night.
The sun, at this time, is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice and is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, thereby resulting in shorter days and longer nights.
The day after the winter solstice, which as per this year is Thursday, December 22, marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.
In England, the people descend on Stonehenge to experience the the solstice for themselves every year. As per tradition, it happened this year as well. Stonehenge witnessed the public in large numbers and many people even shared photographs on social media.
Check them out!
— Ian (Jani) Bozic (@janibozic) December 21, 2016
Winter Solstice celebrations at StoneHenge... pic.twitter.com/Qxlu6ryPlZ
— Liz M Kline (@BklineBetty) December 21, 2016
— Stonehenge (@EH_Stonehenge) December 21, 2016
American space agency NASA also wished the world with this tweet!
— NASA Marshall News (@NASA_Marshall) December 21, 2016
Here's how the winter solstice looked at the Grand Canyon!
— Grand Canyon NPS (@GrandCanyonNPS) December 22, 2016
Seattle had a beautiful evening!
— Sigma Sreedharan (@sigmas) December 22, 2016