Now, get done with as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The First Day of Winter: Winter Solstice 2017
Winter officially begins with the Winter Solstice on Thursday, December 21, 2017. This is the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Enjoy our winter solstice facts, folklore, FAQs, and more!
The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it always occurs around December 21 or 22. (In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs around June 20 or 21.)
In 2017, the Winter Solstice arrives at:
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm UTC
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 11:28 am EST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 10:28 am CST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 9:28 am MST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 8:28 am PST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 7:28 am AKST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 6:28 am HAST
The word solstice comes from Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day.
At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.
Question: Is the solstice the start of winter or the mid-point of winter?
Answer: There is not a black-and-white answer—it depends. We follow what the astronomical calendar tells us. The solstice is the beginning of astronomical winter. (An almanac is defined as a “calendar of the heavens,” so we use the astronomical definition as well.) Astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. However, meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle.
It is important for meteorologists to be able to compare climatological statistics for a particular season from one year to the next for agriculture, commerce, and a variety of other purposes. Thus, meteorologists break the seasons down into groupings of three months. Winter includes December, January, and February.
Linked by EBL in "Winter Solstice 2017." Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Merry Christmas!" up and running.
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