David Woods
December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice: Shortest Day Of The Year Is Tomorrow

Here’s something neat to think about if you’re burned out on celebrity gossip: the shortest day of the year is tomorrow (Thursday, December 22).

Now, tomorrow will last for 24 hours, of course. All days do. However, tomorrow will have the least sunlight of any day this year. A northern city will see just over 9 hours of sunlight. By comparison, that same city would have seen over 15 hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year in June. A southern city can expect about 10.5 hours of sunlight tomorrow.

Let’s take the city of Chicago as an example. Tomorrow, the sun will rise at 7:15 a.m. in Chicago and will set at 4:22 p.m. For many people, it will be dark when they leave for work and dark when they come home. Kind of depressing.

The winter solstice–the official start of winter–takes place tonight at 11:30 p.m. Following the solstice, days will begin to slowly get longer and longer. This will continue until June, when everything will flip around once again. Technically, the winter solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of the earth’s polar hemisphere is farthest away from the sun. You learn something every day.

Although the days in January and February are longer than the days in December, those months are colder because the atmosphere continues to cool.