Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice!

I want to wish everyone happiness on this day that has been celebrated by a variety of cultures throughout time. In many ways, it is the start of a new year.

If you have ever wondered what makes a solstice a solstice, allow me to explain. Most people understand that Earth rotates on it's axis once every "24" hours and revolves around the sun once in "365" days. But many are not aware of a third relative motion: The Earth's axis tilts forward about 23 degrees for the Northern Hemisphere's summer and 23 degrees back for its winter. It is this tilt that causes the seasons. When the Northern Hemisphere is tilting forward, it gets the most direct sunlight for the longest time and produces summer. As we move toward Winter Solstice we get less direct sunlight and less time in the sun.

The line at which the Northern Hemisphere tilts its furthest distance forward is called the Tropic of Cancer. The line at which the Northern Hemisphere tilts furthest back is called the Tropic of Capricorn. The Equator is directly between these two lines. When the sun sits directly over the equator, we are having either our Spring or Autumnal Equinox.

Happy Winter Solstice!

6 comments:

Krista said...

And here I just thought it was the shortest day--and longest night--of the year. Come to think of it, I'm going to bed now...

Thanks for the info, Professor Hackman!

Logan said...

I enoyed this one!

Happy Winter Solstice to all!

societyvs said...

A lot of cultures celebrate the solstice (including mine - First Nations) - and I think it is good for people to rally around something - I like Christmas so I rally around that this time of year (because I am cool).

societyvs said...

Hey this is an old post, I was about to comment on basically the same thing and it was already there! Not much has changed in 2 years!

Jon said...

Which means of course for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere it's the summer solstice. Nice long warm days and slad and cold beer for Christmas.

Hope you and your family have a fantastic Christmas. Thanks for all the great blog posts in 2010 - I love reading your thoughts.

Andrew said...

That is funny Society. I don't know if you have experienced this yet, but I have once or twice sat down to write on a topic, only to discover that I already had a few years ago. :)

Jon - Back at ya! I enjoy reading your blog. Merry Christmas!

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