When is the winter solstice?
London: The official onset of winter and the beginning of the end for long, dark nights in the northern hemisphere is marked by the winter solstice, which is this year at 5.30am (GMT) on Thursday.
The winter solstice happens because the Earth does not spin upright, but on an axis 23.5 degrees from vertical. As the Earth orbits the sun, it reaches the moment of winter solstice when the north pole is tilted furthest from the sun, making it the shortest day of the year.
The winter solstice is as far south as the sun ever gets, shining directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5 degrees south of the equator.
Usually, the winter solstice occurs on the 21 December, but that can shift for the same reasons we have leap years: the Earth takes 365.25 days to orbit the sun, but the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days so each year the solstice is pushed back by around six hours.
"At extreme ends of the four year calendrical cycle the solstice can sometimes get shunted into the early hours of the 22nd, as it does this year. Next year is a leap year, which resets the calendar so that the winter solstice will fall on the 21st again," said Marek Kukula at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night, but the sun continues to rise later for some days afterwards. The reason is that Earth`s orbit around the sun is not circular, but elliptical. As the Earth rotates, it also moves along this curved path, and so sees the sun a little sooner than if it were stationary.
2011: 22 December at 5:30am GMT
2012: 21 December at 11:12am GMT
2013: 21 December at 5:11pm GMT
2014: 21 December at 11:03pm GMT
2015: 22 December at 4:48am GMT
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- CBI confirms Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain's indulgence in Hawala business
- Watch: CM Yogi Adityanath's first speech in UP Assembly house
- Should army take strict action against stone pelters of J&K?
- Etawah: UP cops caught drunk while on duty
- DNA: Reason behind electricity crisis in India despite being power surplus nation
- Left to die on road, pregnant Lucknow woman writes to PM Narendra Modi to end 'triple talaq', says 'I voted for BJP'
- The Kapil Sharma Show: No Sunday episode this weekend? Here’s why
- India vs Australia: Virat Kohli takes reconciliatory path, says his friendship comment was 'blown out of proportion'
- Sunil Grover joining AIB? Here’s the truth
- Reliance Jio closes in on 50 million paid users