Monday, December 20, 2010

December 21st - The First Day Of Winter

Yes, winter is upon us! Today is the Winter Solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter and it is the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year. Therefore the first day of winter has the least amount of sunlight.

The good news is while the days keep getting shorter and the nights longer, once winter arrives the days will slowly get longer and the nights slowly get shorter again and before you know it---- spring, and then summer! But first the snow.

The Earth is actually nearer the sun in January than it is in June -- by three million miles. Pretty much irrelevant to our planet. What causes the seasons is something completely different. The Earth leans slightly on its axis like a spinning top frozen in one off-kilter position. Astronomers have even pinpointed the precise angle of the tilt. It's 23 degrees and 27 minutes off the perpendicular to the plane of orbit. This planetary pose is what causes all the variety of our climate; all the drama and poetry of our seasons, since it determines how many hours and minutes each hemisphere receives precious sunlight.

Do you remember what Solstice means? Solstice means...standing-still-sun. Such precision we have about it now! Winter solstice is when......because of the earth's tilt, your hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, and therefore:The daylight is the shortest. The sun has its lowest arc in the sky.

When it's winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is directly overhead at noon only along the Tropic of Capricorn, on which lie such places as Sao Paulo, Brazil, southern Madagascar, and areas north of Brisbane, Australia.

But something else happens this year! The winter solstice is even more significant because it coincides with a total lunar eclipse for the first time since 1638. So it has been more than 350 years since this has happened!

Tuesday's eclipse will begin at 1:33 a.m. and will continue through 5:01 a.m., so you'll have to stay up late or get up early.

Roughly 3:15 a.m. will be the best time to view the eclipse. When at its peak, the moon will display the most brilliant shade of coppery red.

And will we have great conditions for viewing it? Not sure? If not, hopefully we can get a look at it on the news.

So welcome the winter. Enjoy the beauty that only it can bring.

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

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