The Shortest Day of the Year

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If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the year’s shortest day- and longest night. The solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 and occurs at the moment the North Pole is tilted the farthest away from the sun. In the Eastern time zone, that will occur during full daylight- at 10:59 am. In addition to being the shortest day of the year, the solstice also marks the beginning of winter.

Solstices occur twice a year- once around June 21 (Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year) and around December 21. Summer Solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23° 30′ North) which is in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Winter Solstice is marked by the sun being directly over the Tropic of Capricorn (latitude 23° 30′ South) which is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Although the 21st of December is most commonly associated with the Winter Solstice, the date can vary from  December 20th  through the 23rd. However, According to December 20 or 23 solstices are rare. The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303.

It’s obvious to anyone not living under a rock or in a subterranean cavern that daylight hours vary dramatically during the year. In north Georgia, the sun will rise at 7:38 and set at 5:33 on December 21st, which will provide 9 hours, 54 minutes and 37 seconds of daylight. On June 20, 2021, sunrise and sunset were at 6:27 and 8:51 respectively resulting in 14 hours 23 minutes and 54 seconds of daylight, an increase of almost 4-1/2 hours.

During the winter, hours of daylight decrease as you move further North of the equator. As an example, on December 21st, there will be only 9 hours and 4 minutes of daylight in Boston. On the other hand, during the Summer Solstice, northern cities enjoy more daylight hours; in Boston, daylight lasted for 15 hours, 17 minutes and 2 seconds.