Winter Solstice and First Day of Winter is Thursday

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The weather won't get any warmer, and it will still be dark when you get out of bed, but at least the better days are approaching.

The Winter Solstice traditionally marks the end of winter and the start of new life.

The Winter Solstice takes place in the early morning of December 21 each year when the light from the rising sun aligns perfectly with the roof-box opening of the Newgrange neolithic passage tomb, travels up the 19m corridor and enters the watertight central chamber where it illuminates it completely.

The solstices, and the seasons they mark, are the result of a celestial coincidence. Now every year on the winter solstice people flock from across the globe to Newgrange in County Meath, to feel closer to their ancestors and catch a glimpse of their ancient Ireland's engineering expertise.

Starting Friday, the sun spends a few more seconds above the horizon each day. The summer solstice is when the sun's rays are directly over the Tropic of Cancer. That precision is a reflection of the fact that the solstice is actually calculated by a measure other than day length. Fortunately, we'll be moving back towards longer days after this Thursday - the shortest day of the year.

The summer solstice happens in June.

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These are referred to as the spring and fall equinox, marking the start of the seasons in the astrological calendar.

During the period, northern parts of the USA are to experience zero to six hours of sunlight daily, while states that lie south will have nine to 10.5 hours.

Is the solstice on the same day every year?

Most years, it falls on the 21st in the United Kingdom, but sometimes it lands a little bit off-kilter, because it takes the Earth 365 and a quarter days to go around the sun.

It is one of the wonders of the ancient world - and it still captivates us to this day.

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