"What is the Winter Solstice—the First Day of Winter—Really all About?"

Scheduled air date: 2002 Dec 16-22

Winter officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere (and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere) on Saturday, December 21st.

At this time, the Sun's path across the sky is at its lowest, or closest to the southern horizon, while the Moon's path is at its highest.

For comparison, the above shows the paths of the Sun and Moon across the sky at Summer Solstice—the beginning of Summer (June 21st).  Note that, relative to Winter Solstice, the Sun and Moon appear to have switched places.
(Positions shown at one-hour intervals for mid-Northern latitudes.  The Moon's symbol in the above illustrations is intended to show the Moon's path and not its phase.)

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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