The December solstice happens at the same instant for everyone, everywhere on Earth – and this year the winter solstice occurs on Friday December 21st 22:23 GMT in the Northern Hemisphere.
The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.
The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice and is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights.
The shortest day of the year lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain, which is 8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than the June Solstice. As such, Thursday December 20th is the longest night of the year with the sun not rising until 08:03 GMT on Friday morning.
The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high and the shortest noontime shadow of the year happens there. In the Southern Hemisphere, people will experience their longest day and shortest night.
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