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Winter Solstice Today - The Shortest Day Of The Year Has Arrived
Wednesday 21 December has the fewest hours of sunlight of the year in the northern hemisphere (CCSS Level: Grade 7, Words: 387)
Dec 21, 2016 History

The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly point of -23.5 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the Sun, people in the Northern Hemisphere receive the fewest hours of sunlight of the year. The December solstice happens at the same moment for all of us, no matter where we are on the Earth. This year the solstice will happen on Wednesday December 21st at 10:44 GMT.

Another way to describe the solstice is when the Sun is right overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn. In the top half of the Earth the Sun is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights. In the bottom half of the globe, the opposite is true. Here, the Sun rises early, and sets late. At midday, in the south, the Sun is high and people will experience the longest day and shortest night of the year.

Immediately after the solstice, the days in the north begin to get longer, marking the return of the Sun. The solstice can happen any time between December 20 and December 23, although December 20 or 23 solstices do not happen very often. In fact the last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and the next one will not happen for nearly three hundred years, in the year 2303.

In the UK, for example, daylight on Wednesday will last just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds. This is almost nine hours less than the year's longest day in the middle of summer. However in the lands north of the Arctic Circle, the winter days have no sunlight at all and it is night-time for 24 hours a day. At the south pole, the sun never sets.

For thousands of years, civilisations have marked the solstices as important events, and these ancient traditions will be brought back to life at Stonehenge in England. Despite the fact that it was built thousands of years ago, Stonehenge was actually designed to line up with the point where the Sun set on the Winter solstice. Back then, it was a time to celebrate, before the real cold of winter set in. For the day of the solstice only, access to the Stonehenge site will be free.

When the Northern Hemisphere reaches the winter solstice…
there are the fewest hours of sunshine
the sun is directly overhead at midday
the sun rises early and sets late
the winter season is nearly over
The winter solstice happens...
at different times around the world
at the exact same time everywhere
only ever in the Northern Hemisphere
only every 300 years or so
Stonehenge is found where?
In southern England
The Arctic Circle
The Tropic of Capricorn
The Southern Hemisphere
Christmas in the Southern hemisphere comes...
in the middle of winter
in the middle of autumn
when the days are short
in the middle of summer
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real, in fact



very old



in addition to



the parallel of latitude 23°26' south of the equator



to do something enjoyable for a special event



the stage of human social development and organization that is considered most advanced



do or plan something for a reason



in spite of



come into contact with



the half of the earth north and south of the equator



the line where the earth and sky appear to meet



right now



the middle of the day; noon



having an uneven or irregular surface; not smooth or level



the two times of the year when the sun reaches its highest and lowest point in the sky at noon



A group of standing stones on Salisbury Plain in southern England



sloping or leaning over