Scheduled air date: 1999 Dec 20-26
At the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, the Sun rises due East and sets due West. It then rises slightly farther North with each day, until it reaches its Northernmost position at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. After Summer Solstice, the Sun reverses its direction, rising slightly farther South with each day, passing through Autumnal (Autumn) Equinox and then reaching its Southernmost position at the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
Winter Solstice occurs on December 22nd this year (for North American observers), but as the earliest sunsets occur about 2-3 weeks before the Winter Solstice, those days usually seem shorter to us.
(Shown for mid-Northern latitudes.)
The Full Moon of December 22 will be the first in 133 years to coincide with the Northern Hemisphere's Winter Solsticewhich marks the beginning of Winter and is also when the Earth is about its closest to the Sunand Lunar Perigeewhen the Moon is closest to the Earth. These three factorsFull Moon, Winter Solstice and Lunar Perigeewill result in a Moon that will appear unusually bright under clear skies!
(Shown for mid-Northern latitudes around local midnight.)
If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.
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