5 Facts about the Winter Solstice

winter solstice tree in front of hills and sun

Today is the Winter Solstice but do you know what that means?

  1. The Winter Solstice is the first day of Winter but also the shortest day of the year. This year is occurs on December 21st. In Okoboji, we will only receive 8 hours and 57 minutes of daylight with the sun rising at 7:50 a.m. and setting at 4:48 p.m.
  2. We only receive this amount of sunlight because of the way the Earth tilts. The Earth has a tilt of 23.5 degrees and during the winter solstice, the Earth’s North Pole is leaning away from the sun. This means the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter. The Southern Hemisphere on the other hand experiences summer with the South Pole tilted toward the sun. With the way the Earth leans, the Northern Hemisphere is the furthest away from the sun as it will be all year.
  3. After the Winter Solstice, the days will begin to get a little bit longer promising the coming of Spring. As we move into January, we will reach our closest point to the sun which makes the Earth rotate slightly faster than normal. This causes our clock time and sun time to be a little off.
  4. As the sun time and clock time are a little off, that makes it so despite the Winter Solstice being the shortest day of the year, it’s not the latest sunrise or earliest sunset. Here in Okoboji, our ealiest sunset was on Dec. 8 at 4:44 p.m. while our latest sunrise won’t happen until Jan. 1 at 7:53 a.m.
  5. During the Winter Solstice, the sun’s arc in the sky is the lowest it will be all year. This means your shadow at noon will be the longest it will be all year as well. So make sure to head outside and check out your shadow.

The Winter Solstice is a great time because while it means it truly is winter, it also means we start to see more sunlight hours. If you’re anything like me, that makes you very happy and hopeful because I know I love the sun. Here’s to a great holiday filled with sun and hope!