The shortest day of the year its here, today Wednesday marks the winter solstice, the day with the fewest hours of sunlight of 2016.
Despite the fact the solstice gets an entire day of recognition, it happens in an instant: at 5:44 a.m. EST (10:44 GMT), when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This position leaves the North Pole beyond the sun’s reach, and plunges it into total darkness, according to EarthSky.org.
At this moment, the sun will shine directly overhead at Noon at exactly 23.5 degrees south of the equator, along the imaginary latitude line known as the Tropic of Capricorn — a line that runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil and northern South Africa. This is the farthest south the sun will shine the entire year, which is why the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day of the year, and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day of the year on the winter solstice.
At 5:44 a.m. EST, the sun will also reach its southernmost point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. After that moment, the sun stops moving southward and begins its trek north in the sky — and hence was given the name “solstice,” which means “sun stands still” in Latin, according to NASA.
After the winter solstice, the days will begin to get longer in the Northern Hemisphere. But that doesn’t mean temperatures will immediately increase. Rather, northern mid-latitudes will experience the winter chill partly because they’ll only get around nine hours of daylight in the weeks following the solstice, compared with the roughly 15 hours of daily sunlight they get around the summer solstice, Live Science reported in 2012.
— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) December 21, 2016