Give Thanks for the Winter Solstice. You Might Not Be Here Without It.

Dec 22, 2017

By Shannon Hall

On Dec. 21, or Thursday this year, the sun will hug the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it will seem to barely rise — hardly peeking above a city’s skyline or a forest’s snow-covered evergreens — before it swiftly sets.

For months, the orb’s arc across the sky has been slumping, shortening each day.

In New York City, for example, the sun will be in the sky for just over nine hours — roughly six hours less than in June at the summer solstice. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, before the sun reverses course and climbs higher into the sky. (At the same time, places like Australia in the Southern Hemisphere mark the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.)

This is a good opportunity to imagine what such a day might look like if we had evolved on another planet where the sun would take a different dance across the sky. You might want to feel thankful for the solstices and seasons we do have, or we might not be here to witness them at all.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

4 comments on “Give Thanks for the Winter Solstice. You Might Not Be Here Without It.

  • 3
    Cohominid says:

    The ancients were on to something when they celebrated the solstices, and we have happily continued those celebrations. Now we have the benefit of astrophysics to back up the wisdom of antiquity and the festive spirit of the season! Glad Yule, everyone!

  • Cohominid #3
    Dec 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    The ancients were on to something when they celebrated the solstices, and we have happily continued those celebrations.

    With food supplies dependent on local climate cycles and timetables for sowing and harvesting (if crop failures were to be avoided), along with seasonal migrations and timed breeding of animals, an understanding of the astronomical calendar was essential to survival in ancient times.

    Now we have the benefit of astrophysics to back up the wisdom of antiquity and the festive spirit of the season!

    Unfortunately we also have followers of delusional media pundits and faith-addled politicians, who deny both the natural laws of sciences, the absence of supernatural magic, claim all festivals as exclusively support for their woo, and who are pampered consumers, who have lost touch with the basic connections to material reality!

    Articles like the one in the OP explain the diversity of possible mechanisms, which follow from the natural laws of physics in the evolution of solar-systems.

    Welcome to the site, and have a splendid solstice, super Saturnalia, and fantastic festivities!

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