Home > General Astronomy, Time and Date > Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

The northern hemisphere winter solstice occurs today, 21 December 2010 at 2338 GMT.

But surely the winter solstice is just the shortest day. How can it “occur” at a specific instant?

That’s because we astronomers define the solstice as the instant when the Sun gets to its furthest south below the celestial equator. Or to put it another way, the instant when the north pole of the Earth is tipped directly away from the Sun.

And this happens at exactly 2338 GMT on 21 December 2010.

It’s important to remember though that while we are in the midst of a deep, cold winter, the southern hemisphere are celebrating their summer solstice, and their longest day.

  1. nathan
    January 31, 2011 at 15:43

    I live in houston texas and would like to figure out how I can find the dark place
    To have a star party. Thank you very much I enjoy reading your articles.

    • January 31, 2011 at 16:08

      Hi Nathan,

      I’m glad you enjoy the articles, and thanks for your comment.

      As always with these things it’s better to rely on local experts than someone from elsewhere. I’d suggest you try contacting your local astronomical association http://spacibm.rice.edu/~has/ and they might be able to suggest the best place near you for stargazing.

      Regards

      Steve

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