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What is the winter solstice?

5:00 PM, Dec 20, 2013   |    comments
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Winter begins Saturday, Dec. 21 at 9:11 a.m.

Even though we have winter-like weather in November and December, our average wettest months are still to come. January averages the most rain, followed by February and March.

Winter arrives every year between Dec. 20 and 22 in the northern hemisphere. This is when the earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. The vertical rays of the sun hit the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.5 degrees south latitude. This is known as the winter solstice.

In many parts of the northern hemisphere, this is the day with the least amount of daylight hours. On the first day of winter, there are 24 hours of light south of the Antarctic Circle; conversely, there are 24 hours of darkness north of the Arctic Circle.

The earth is closest to the sun around Jan. 4 when it is 91,445,000 miles away. This is called the perihelion. The opposite of this is the aphelion, which occurs around July 3 when the earth is 94,555,000 miles from the sun.


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