Has it been dark lately when you arrive home from work or school? Have you noticed the nights are long and the days are cold? Its winter solstice time again!
Solstice means “sun standstill”, but the Sun’s apparent motion doesn’t stop nor does the Earth stop turning. Since the beginning of the year (or the summer solstice to be precise) the position of sunrise (and sunset) has been shifting gradually northward along the horizon. On the solstice this northward movement ends – the Sun stands still on the horizon for a few days – and then it heads back south.
More precisely, in 2015 the southern winter solstice occurs at 02:38am AEST on Monday June 22. At this moment the Sun is at its most northerly point on its path through the sky and directly above the line of the Tropic of Cancer. While it will be dark in Australia, somewhere on the Tropic of Cancer it will be 12 noon locally and the Sun will be directly overhead. That somewhere will be in the west Atlantic ocean just north of the Dominican Republic and any yacht sailing there will cast no shadow.
The solstice is a natural turning point in the year. Historically it was a time of new beginnings, of rebirth and revival. From now on the days will lengthen and the warmth of summer is on its way.
Although Monday is solstice day itself you wont notice much difference in the length of the day over the weekend. So make the most of the long nights and watch Venus, Jupiter and the Moon shining in the western evening sky.