The winter solstice officially arrived at 5:44am EDT this morning when the Sun crept above the horizon for it's shortest show of the year. Here are a few cool facts (punny) about this special day that you can warmly share.
#1 Seasons - The reason we have them is because the Earth rotates on a tilted axis around the sun. But even though Wednesday is the shortest day of the year, the coldest week of winter is usually the 3rd or 4th of January. Why you ask? Because the Earth's radiant heat doesn't reach it's lowest point for about 3 or 4 weeks after the solstice arrives. Similar to a cup of soup cooling after it was spooned into your bowl.
#2 Solstice - The word solstice is derived from the Latin word 'solstitium', meaning 'Sun standing still'. It was chosen because during a solstice (winter or summer) the sun appears to stand nearly still in the sky.
#3 Distance from Sun - During winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is actually closer to the Sun than in the summer. Seasons are not defined by how far the Earth is from the Sun. Seasons occur because as the earth orbits the sun it tilts on its axis 23.5 degrees towards or away from it. The Earth reaches its closest encounter of the year with the Sun a few weeks after the winter solstice! This point is called its Perihelion.
#4 Stonehenge - Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire (England) is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset (opposed to New Grange, which points to the winter solstice sunrise, and the Goseck circle, which is aligned to both the sunset and sunrise). Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
Check out the map of the US below to see how many hours of daylight you get today: