Happy Winter Solstice 2008

At 12:04 UTC tomorrow (21st December) we reach the winter solstice. This is the point in our annual perambulation around the Sun when our local star appears the furthest south in the sky. This will be the day with the shortest amount of daylight for people in the northern hemisphere and the longest for those in the southern hemisphere. It is perhaps quite interesting to note that although the day is the shortest for those of us in the UK, the earliest sunset was back on 13th December and the latest sunrise will be around 29/30th December.

This year, if you have Windows Media Player and assuming it isn't cloudy, you can watch live streaming of the winter solstice from Newgrange between 08:30 UTC and 09:30 UTC. Newgrange is 5000 year old Neolithic passage tomb that was specifically designed so that at dawn on the days around the winter solstice sunlight would penetrate into the inner chamber. If you want an idea of what to expect, you can watch the video from 2007.

Of course we shouldn't forget the reason for the season. It is all due to the wonderful 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's rotation axis relative to our orbit around the Sun. Life on Earth would be quite different without it.

Happy Solstice everyone.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 20th Dec 2008 (22:28 GMT) | Permalink
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