Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year is here on Friday, December 21. And this time, it is accompanied with a special meteor show and a full moon, just four days before Christmas 2018.
Scientifically, winter solstice is an astronomical event marking the shortest and darkest day of the year. Darkest day because it is also the longest night of the year. It happens when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.
A biannual event, it happens one in the Northern Hemisphere (December solstice ) and once in the Southern Hemisphere (June solstice).
Google celebrated the Winter Solstice with a special Doodle.
“Today we celebrate the first day of winter and the longest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, also known as the Winter Solstice. As our earth circles the sun, the North Pole angles farthest away from the sun today on December 21,” writes Google in the accompanying note.
“Today you can find the sun at its lowest position throughout the Northern Hemisphere sky. People around the world have celebrated this astronomical milestone for centuries.”
Google goes on describe the cultural and traditional events associated with the celestial act in Ireland, China and Stonehenge.
“In Ireland, people gather days before the solstice at Newgrange – a massive gravesite that’s more than 5,000 years old. Crowds selected by lottery wait for a chance to see the sunrise light up the ancient passage tomb.
“At Stonehenge, crowds of people come together to celebrate and capture the moment when the sun directly aligns with the famous stones.
“In China, locals refer to the Winter Solstice as Dongzhi Festival, a celebration of winter’s arrival. Locals enjoy rice balls called tang yuan, which translates to “family reunion.” This treat is said to bring prosperity and unity—something all of us can enjoy on this auspicious day,” said Google.