Here’s why this year’s winter solstice is unique

Gwen Vasquez
December 23, 2018

The day marks the circling of sun by our planet earth, resulting into the South Pole angling closest to the sun on December 21, that is today.

How fitting that on the longest night of the year, the moon will be shining brightly.

Winter Solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun.

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However, most people concentrate on the whole solstice day, which has been recognised by holidays and festivals in many cultures all over the world.

Shown above is the orientation of the Earth relative to the sun's most direct rays around the time of the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice.

The winter solstice in 2018 will occur at 10.23pm in London, at this time the sun will be directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the last solstice to take place on December 23 was in 1903, and it won't happen again until 2303.

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So what's going on with this full moon?

A brilliant full moon rises at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2017. That's because it's winter solstice, a day on which most of the U.S. clocks fewer than 10 hours of daylight, reports the Washington Post.

The moon will help enliven the long night, and, as the US National Weather Service points out, we can now look forward to daylight increasing for the next six months.

However, when you're looking out into a clear sky on Friday night, the moon will appear full to you - and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.

In Sydney, Australia, they're having their summer solstice - mornings will start getting darker from the middle of December, and evenings will get lighter until early January.

There's also a meteor shower.

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