Today is the shortest day of the year

Today is the shortest day of the year

Today is the shortest day of the year

The solstice this year is also special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon, called the Cold Moon, which will be visible in the night with the Ursid meteor shower.

I love that we have names for the full moon - we can't hide our affection for this pearl of a natural satellite, a celestial object that holds a powerful sway over us mere humans.

Today, on December 21, the sun will rise around 7:54 a.m. and set at 4:20 p.m.in Seattle, marking the shortest day of the year.

When exactly does it occur?

The moon, called the Cold Moon, arrives December 22nd, and it's the first time in eight years a full moon has coincided with the winter solstice. The website EarthSky has a handy conversion website for your time zone.

In astrological terms, the December solstice marks the end of autumn in the northern hemisphere and the start of winter-which will last until March 20, 2019.

Why it happens: "Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth".

The solstice happens when Earth's northern hemisphere is tilted farthest away from the sun.

Wait. Why is the Earth tilted?

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.

This is the day when Sun appears at its most southern position. Illumination of 98 percent or more appears as a full moon. Watch Historic Live Stream of Natural Wonder, Full Moon and Meteor Shower From Newgrange in Ireland.

The moon will help enliven the long night, and, as the US National Weather Service points out, we can now look forward to daylight increasing for the next six months.

In Maine, much smaller winter solstice celebrations take place around the state, such as Harpswell Heritage Land Trust's Winter Solstice Lantern Walk, the Maine Audubon Winter Solstice Celebration with Spirit Passages at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, and the Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church Winter Solstice event. You could possibly see 10 shooting stars every hour, depending on where you're watching from.

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