Winter solstice is here, with a special moon treat

Winter solstice is here, with a special moon treat

For people living in the Southern hemisphere, the South Pole is pointing towards the Sun, making it summertime and the summer solstice today.

The first day of winter, Friday, Dec. 21, will not be your typical winter solstice.

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.

What is the winter solstice? This occurs when Earth's North Poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.

In 1898, the Winter Solstice was more than just the dawn of a new year - it was also the dawn of the atomic age. It marks the transition period at which days begin getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere and shorter in the Southern Hemisphere, and ushers in the Winter season. When the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, the sun's rays align with Stonehenge's central Altar stone and Slaughter stone, which may have had spiritual significance to the people who built the monument, Live Science reported in 2013.

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Around the full moon phase, the moon is visible in the sky generally from sunset to sunrise. That's because the final full moon of the year-known as the Cold Moon, or Full Cold Moon-comes on Saturday, technically at 12:49pm.

That also, of course, means the night will be longer, which means even more time for moon-gazing and meteor shower spotting!

If you're wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again.

The Geminid meteor shower occurs each December. The annual Ursids meteor shower should hit its peak a day or two after the solstice event. Tonight-and indeed tomorrow night-the moon will appear particularly round and full in the night sky near the constellation Orion.

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