Hard to believe, four more days, and already this year has been weird for weather. I look outside, and see snow, albeit almost melted away, but the dump of snow from November is still there. So some might say winter has been with us for a few weeks already. Nope-sadly it has not. Winter starts in four days, whether you like it or not. At just after 8:00am on December 21st, that is when winter starts according to astronomers. The great news out of all this is, the days will grow longer, but if you are a star gazer, like me, then the nights become shorter.
The winter solstice has always been something of a special time of the year for me. It is always nice to know that once we pass this time of the year, the days get better again, with spring and summer soon to be here. Pin-pointing the exact time is important for that knowledge, and is just cool to know, strictly nerd speaking of course.
I find few people really know what is happening with the Earth and our nearest star, the Sun this time of year. Sure, most know that the Earth is tilted, but some think that the Earth is swinging back and forth like a pendulum on a clock–that is farthest from the truth. The Earth is permanently tilted at about 23 degrees, in relation to the Sun, as it rotates around, with the centre axes almost pointing at the star called Polaris, or the North Star, all of the time. This is why a Sun Dial works like clockwork.
The other big question I hear people wondering about, and some just cannot wrap their heads around it, is why say, “start winter now, once the nights start getting longer again,” on the shortest day of the year? I agree this would make people wonder, but put it simply, it is called seasonal lag. It takes a while for the land and skies to warm up or cool down once the nights and days get longer or shorter. Remember, these astronomical events are more or less just symbolic, points of time in the Solar System. Nature does not play fairly all the time, and the seasons maybe pushed around on the calendar each way by a few weeks. (praise Nature) Just go with it.
Hey, if you are going to have a fixed calendar, then you might as well put down the Winter Solstice too, and say, “winter will start then.” Heck, we should change the calendar altogether and make the New Year start on December 21, instead of where it is now–it makes more sense. Or, lets go further and go with “The Star Date” time system, like on Start Trek. Problem solved.
I like to celebrate the winter solstice by getting my camera out and taking photos of nature, hoping to get as many awesome shots during the daylight period as I can.