So what is the Winter Solstice? Well, put simply, its that point in time when the Sun reaches it southern most point in the sky when measured from the north pole. Saturday, December 21, 2013 the Northern Hemisphere will experience the fewest hours of sunlight of the year. Specifically, the Winter Solstice takes place at 11:11 p.m. CST. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area we’ll have just 9 hours, 58 minutes and 28 seconds of daylight, and that will most likely be degraded due to the rainy weather meteorologists currently have forecast.
It’s important to note here that the length of the day (24 hours) is not changing but the hours of daylight during the days are fluctuating over the period from the Winter Solstice on to the Summer Solstice. The Summer Solstice, which will occur on June 21, 2014, in contrast, will enjoy almost 14 and a half hours of daylight.
"The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun's path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction."
So at the moment occupants of the Northern Hemisphere have the Winter Solstice the Southern Hemisphere has their Summer Solstice. The opposite is true with regard to the length of sunlight hours in the Southern Hemisphere at this time. Put another way, while we’re making snowmen and enjoying hot chocolate the good folks in the Southern Hemisphere are slippin’ another prawn on the barbie and pulling a tinny out of the cooler.
You can picture the north pole being tipped 23° away from the Sun while the south pole is aimed 23° toward the Sun. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that since the hours of sunlight are less and the Sun is at it’s lowest point in the sky of any time during the year that the temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere will also be at their lowest. Typically the coldest days of the winter occur later in the season and not on the solstice.
So embrace the darkness or celebrate the promise of illumination. You decide. But above all relish the fact that you are a living being on a dynamic celestial body hurtling through the cosmos.