December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice and More of my Farm

Welcome to the winter solstice, which will occur this evening at precisely 6:38 pm EST!  The winter solstice, which occurs on December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, marks the beginning of winter.  It’s also the one day of the year which has the shortest period of daylight.  The word solstice, actually means “sun stands still”, an appropriate description of the sun as it hovers quite low in the sky.  The earth travels around the sun, always tilted at about 23-1/2 degrees on its axis.  It appears as though the sun is changing position, but it’s the earth revolving at this tilted angle, causing different parts of the world to receive different amounts of sunlight throughout the year.  This is why seasons occur.

During summer, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun.  During winter, the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun.  The solstice is the point at which the sun seems to begin moving back in the opposite direction.  The summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 22nd, and is our longest period of daylight.  The sun appears to stand still, high in the sky, for several days, and then begin its journey back towards the equator.   It crosses the equator around September 22, and the trip continues until the sun reaches its southern most point.   This is what’s happening right now and why your days are so short in the Northern Hemisphere.  Happy winter to you!