Published: Fri, December 21, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Start of winter, a full moon and a meteor shower

Start of winter, a full moon and a meteor shower

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on either 21 or 22 December, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn.

Winter solstice is here for the Northern Hemisphere, and it's a time of both darkness and light, especially this year.

What is the winter solstice? After that moment, the sun will stop moving southward and will begin its trek northward in the sky - hence the name "solstice", which means "sun stands still" in Latin, according to NASA. The day and time of the solstice vary every year. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere.

The English Heritage for instance, celebrates the winter solstice at Stonehenge on this meteorologically accurate date which will this year fall on December 22.

Across the world in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient stonewalled Mayan city of Tulum also has a structure honoring the solstices.

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However, the moon may appear bigger when it is near the horizon due to something known as the moon illusion.

Rather, the Earth has a tilt of roughly 23.5 degrees off a vertical axis.

In clear conditions, light from the rising sun lights up the inner chamber of the 5,000-year-old tomb. In Iran, this event is celebrated as Yalda night or Shab-e-Yalda.

Gathering pagans also sang and played music at the winter solstice celebration in County Meath, Ireland.

For those in the North of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole, 21 December and the winter solstice marks results in a polar night as there will be no daylight on this day. China marks the start of winter with the Dongzhi festival, during which families come together and enjoy rice balls called tangyuan.

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