Winter solstice 2018: Today is the shortest day of the year - Here is all you need to knowWinter Solstice 2018: December 21, Friday is the shortest day of the year 2018. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun appears at its most southerly position, directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn. It marks the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
People around the globe have celebrated this astronomical milestone for centuries.
In Ireland, people gather days before the solstice at Newgrange -- a massive gravesite that is more than 5,000 years old. Crowds selected by lottery wait for a chance to see the sunrise light up the ancient passage tomb.
At Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, large crowds gather to celebrate and capture the moment when the sun directly aligns with the famous stones.
In China, where they call the Winter Solstice Dongzhi Festival, people enjoy rice balls called tang yuan, which translates to "family reunion". This treat is said to bring prosperity and unity-something all of us can enjoy on this auspicious day.
This year, the winter solstice is even more special because a full moon, known as the Cold Moon, will follow the next day. Not just this, people might get to see a meteor shower to boot.
When does winter solstice occur?
The winter solstice usually takes place on December 21. In India, winter solstice will take place at 3.53 a.m. on December 22 and will be marked by a host of religious observances and celebrations.
According to CNN, the time that the solstice occurs and the day itself can shift because the solar year (the time it takes for the sun to reappear in the same spot as seen from Earth) doesn't exactly match our calendar year. The exact time of the 2018 winter solstice will be 22.23 Universal Time, which is 5:23 pm ET (for parts of canada, the United States and Latin America), the report said.
Why is winter solstice special this year?
According to CNN, the winter solstice will be extra special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon known as the Cold Moon, and you might get to see a meteor shower to boot.
As per the American Meteor Society, the Ursids may be visible in the mid-northern hemisphere. At the peak, there should be about 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before the dawn, it said. Before sunrise in the southeast on Friday, Mercury and Jupiter can be seen appearing as if they are about to collide in space, despite them being hundreds of millions of miles apart. This will be visible in a sky illuminated by bright twilight.
What happens in a winter solstice?
Each December, winter solstice marks a very specific event in the astronomer's calendar, which is the only day in the year when the earth's north pole is at its maximum tilt away from the sun. All people and things in north of the earth's equator experience the shortest day and longest night in the year, just as the earth spins around its axis.
Snowy Google Doodle marks winter solstice
A snowy Google Doodle marked the 2018 winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the Earth is farthest from the Sun
The Google Doodle features a "mousy" animated figure ice skating above a mouse hole. It appears, he has collected food for hibernation. The animation ends with the figure rolling into the hole while covered in snow.