Winter Solstice Is Darkest Day Of The Year
December 22, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Dec. 22 (UPI) — Thursday is the darkest day of the year with the shortest amount of time between sunrise and sunset, and it’s all due to the Earth’s tilt, U.S. scientists say.
The amount of sunlight for the Dec. 21 winter solstice varies by region, however, with New York, for example, getting nine hours and 13 minutes of sunlight for the solstice while Phoenix will see nine hours and 57 minutes of sunlight, Accuweather.com reported.
It’s a north-south thing, scientists say.
“Earth is at a constant angle to the sun of 23.5 degrees. That axis is always pointing in the same direction so at some times of the year the sun is shining most brightly on the Southern Hemisphere in our winter, and in our summer, when it comes the other way, the sun is shining on the Northern Hemisphere more,” AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said.
“On the day when the sun appears to be as far south as it ever gets, that’s the winter solstice.”
While the solstice is the darkest day of the year, it’s not the coldest, Abrams said.
The oceans take a long time to heat up and cool down and by December they still retain some of their summer warmth and usually the coldest days of winter do not occur for another month and a half, he said.