The winter solstice is just ahead for the Northern hemisphere – in California it will occur at exactly 8:19 PM on Saturday December 21. On that date and at that time, the Sun will reach its lowest maximum elevation in the sky, it will rise and set at its southernmost points along the horizon, and the north pole will reach the maximum tilt away from the sun. The winter solstice is the longest night of the year – in California about 14 hours long. We are definitely in winter now (not my favorite season) but I always feel happier after the solstice because the days gradually lengthen. Spring is just around the corner!





Photo: NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this image of Earth on the first day of the winter solstice, December 22, 2011. On Wikimedia Commons
Illustration from: Gillet,J.A. (1837-1908) and Rolfe, W. J. (1827-1910), 1882, Astronomy for the use of schools and academies. On Wikimedia Commons 
Photo credit: Tom Ruen, Full Sky Observatory. On Wikimedia Commons