Winter Solstice 2018
A full moon and meteor shower make it special.
For six months now, the days have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer in the Northern Hemisphere — but that’s about to reverse itself.
Winter solstice, the shortest day of 2018, is Friday, December 21.
The solstice this year will be extra special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon known as the Cold Moon, and you might be able to see a meteor shower to boot.
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position. It marks the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
The solstice usually takes place on December 21. 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.
What other seasonal transitions do we mark?
The equinoxes, both spring and fall, mark when the sun’s rays are directly over the equator, where we have equal length of day and night. The summer solstice is when the sun’s rays are farthest north over the Tropic of Cancer, giving us our longest day and summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
When you’re looking out into a clear sky tonight, the moon will appear full to you — and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.
Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon (by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar).
If you’re wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again. So it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but still, you don’t see this too often.
Now what about that meteor shower?
The annual Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak a day or two after the solstice. You might be able to see up to 10 “shooting stars” per hour depending on your location.
Winter solstice traditions and celebrations
It’s no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of the sun and longer days to come.
Here’s to longer days and lighter evenings!
*credit CNN Travel