Solstice celebrations kick off tonight, the darkest night of the year

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December 21 is the Winter Solstice, seen by many worldwide -- including people watching the sun at Stonehenge in England, as a spiritual event.

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, seen by many worldwide -- including people watching the sun at Stonehenge in England, as a spiritual event.

Here comes the dark. The winter solstice — marking the longest night and shortest day of the year — is Monday night.

The solstice occurs at the same instant everywhere on Earth. In the United States, it happens at 11:48 p.m. ET Monday (or 10:48 p.m. CT, 9:48 p.m. MT and 8:48 p.m. PT).

In Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, that means the solstice actually comes on Tuesday.

The winter solstice is the precise moment the Northern Hemisphere is tilted its farthest from the sun all year, and usually occurs near the day when there is the least amount of daylight and the most darkness.

One of the most famous solstice celebrations occurs at the ancient Stonehenge ruins in Wiltshire, England, where druids, pagans and other revelers gather each year to celebrate the event.


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The solstice is the astronomical beginning of winter — the start of the coldest three months in the Northern Hemisphere — even though meteorologists view winter as starting Dec. 1. After the solstice, the days slowly start to get longer again.

It’s the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, where Dec. 21 marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of astronomical summer.

Winter’s shortest day, however, is typically not the coldest day of the year. There is a lag between the shortest day of the year and the coldest average temperatures for most spots in the USA.

This lag in temperature occurs because even though the amount of daylight is increasing, the Earth’s surface continues to lose more heat than it receives from the sun. In most locations across the country, the minimum daily temperature occurs around two or three weeks later, in early to mid-January.


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For example, the coldest days in Boston, on average, are Jan. 17-26. In Chicago, it’s Jan. 17-20, and in Miami, it’s Jan. 2-22. At the end of January, more heat finally begins arriving than leaving, and days slowly start to warm up.

The Earth’s tilted axis causes the seasons. During the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the land north of the equator is tilted away from the sun, which lowers the amount of the sun’s energy warming the Northern Hemisphere.

And why is the Earth tilted? It’s probably the result of collisions with various proto-planets and other massive objects during the formation of the solar system billions of years ago, according to NASA. Just a bit unsettling to realize that the reason the Earth has the perfect temperature for life to form is a few random collisions with other space rocks a few eons ago.

In the meantime, happy solstice!

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  • We can see that God who created the heavens and earth and the sea and all that is in them is a God of order. He gives us the seasons which symbolize for us year after year the gospel message. That is, life, death and resurrection. From the dormant winter we see God’s creation bursting with new life each spring. Awesome. Even the heavens reveal the same message from Virgo to Leo they symbolize the Biblical story. Jesus, the Savior, Messiah (bread of life) who was sent from heaven to be born of a virgin from the tribe of Judah (the lion of Judah). To die for our sins and to be resurrected and exalted to the right hand of God The Father. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Turn away from sin and follow Him. Then you will be in communion with the One who created and sustains all things. God Bless