Winter Solstice 2011: Shortest Day of the Year December 22 – ABC News

21 12 2011

By NED POTTER (@NedPotterABC)

Dec. 21, 2011

If the early evening gloom is getting to you, take comfort that the days are about to start getting longer.

The winter solstice — which marks the beginning of winter and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere — comes tonight at 12:30 a.m. EST.

We’re assured, the Mayan calendar doesn’t really predict that the world will end a year from today, but there’s no fighting the laws of orbital mechanics, which have been known in some form since before Stonehenge was built (more about that in a moment).

A quick reminder of what’s happening: The Earth, turning on its axis as it circles the sun, is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees relative to its orbit. Whatever the season, the axis points the same way, with Polaris, the North Star, hovering over the North Pole. (It actually shifts slowly in a 26,000-year cycle, but that’s an issue for another day.)

see more via Winter Solstice 2011: Shortest Day of the Year December 22 – ABC News.

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