Today is the Winter Solstice... and here's what it actually means
Today marks the shortest day of the year before the days slowly begin to draw out again
The Winter solstice is upon us.
The day - today, Thursday - marks the shortest day of the year before the days slowly begin to draw out again.
It occurs because this is when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the Sun – specifically -23.5 degrees outwards.
While the entire day is typically considered solstice, scientists can actually measure the precise moment it occurs. When the sun is directly over the line marking the Tropic of Capricorn – the latitude stretching across the southern hemisphere – solstice occurs.
The sun will set at 16.28 in Ireland.
Daylight on Thursday will last just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds – almost nine hours less than the year’s longest day in the summer.
However, in regions to the north of the Arctic Circle, the winter days have no sunlight at all.
Usually, the solstice falls on the 21st, but the time can vary each year, due to the slight discrepancy between the time that we use and the solar time - a variation which is rectified every four years, when a leap year occurs and we get an extra day on the calendar.
This is the reason Winter solstice in 2015 took place on 22 December.
Ancient civilisations in Ireland, the UK and abroad have marked the solstices as significant events throughout history, and these ancient traditions will be brought back to life at Newgrange during the solstice, when people attend to see the light phenomenon in the tunnel.
In the words of Arthur Pendragon, chief of the British druids and self-proclaimed reincarnation of King Arthur, the solstice is the most important day of the year, as it welcomes in the new sun.
Independent News Service