Monday, December 22, 2014

December Solstice

The December Solstice arrived in New Zealand at 12:03pm NZDT today. That means that the sun has reached its southernmost point, relative to the equator, and will now again begin “moving” north.

Our days will now begin getting shorter, and the days in the north will begin to get longer, if only slightly at first. Six months from now, the process reverses, then six months after that, it reverses yet again, and so on.

This all happens because of axial tilt—quite literally, the reason for the seasons. Because of that tilt, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, and in the June Solstice it’ll be directly over the Tropic of Cancer. You probably knew that already, but it’s amazing how many people don’t.

As I’ve said many times, we don’t really take much notice of the solstices: Summer begins on December 1 and winter on June 1. And that’s just the way it is. Be that as it may, standard practice is now to refer to the December Solstice, not the "Winter Solstice", because it's only winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Similarly, the same is true for the June Solstice, not the "Summer Solstice".

In any case, enjoy the solstice, if you’re so inclined.

I created the graphic above for a post in 2012. I used an image in the public domain and claim no ownership over that image, however, the composition is licensed under my usual Creative Commons license.

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