Watch The Newgrange Winter Solstice live online this year
23 December, 2018, 10:59 | Author: Kelly Sanders
The December solstice marks the exact moment when the sun's most direct rays reach their southernmost point south of the equator, along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south latitude.
The mystical annual event has its origins in the mists of ancient Ireland and marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, when the sun drops to its lowest point in the sky. The Northern Hemisphere receives its least direct sunlight on the winter solstice, but in many places the coldest average temperatures of winter aren't until January.
Every year on December 21, a shaft of sunlight actress through the window box above the entrance to the 5,000 year old neolithic tomb and illuminates the entire passage for 17 minutes. True to form, a second Google Doodle, visible to Southern Hemisphere users, shows a mouse getting ready to enjoy sunshine, warm weather and the start of summer.
With only seven hours and 50 minutes of daylight today, sunset is set to take place at 3.53pm GMT today, according to Time and Date website.
Of course, our long winter night pales in comparison with Alaska, where the sun barely climbs above the horizon for three to four hours in much of the Last Frontier.
In Japan, this is an especially sacred time of the year for famers, as the sun returns to help their crops grow after the long winter. They spend time preparing themselves by fasting and praying for several days before the solstice, which they see as the beginning of the year. Then 12 kachina clowns dance with the Shalako, seen as messengers from the gods, who are 12 foot-high effigies with bird heads. There are many customs associated with the Winter Solstice that derive from stories of a mighty battle between the dark & the light or in America we call that between the haves & have-nots. The prehistoric site is believed to have been constructed between 3000 BCE and 2000 BCE, but no one has been able to solve the mystery of how those enormous stones got there.
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Welcome to winter solstice, the shortest day of 2018
But this year's winter solstice is a bit different - as there will also be a full moon and a meteor shower on Friday night. This is the shortest day of the year, too - but with the moon this full, we've got plenty of reason to stay out howling.
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