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12/21/2017 – Ephemeris – Winter begins this morning

December 21, 2017

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 21st. The Sun will rise at 8:16. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:05. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 8:23 this evening.

The thermometer and snowfall tell us that winter ought to be here. Well it will be at 11:29 this morning. At that point the Sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23 ½ degrees south latitude. Odd name because 2,000 years ago the Sun was in indeed entering Capricornus. Now it’s entering in Sagittarius, right above the spout of the teapot asterism we know so well in summer. From then on the Sun will be climbing up the sky each noon until June 21st next year when summer will start. To which I say Go Sun Go! The Sun will barely make it to 22 degrees above the southern horizon at local noon in Interlochen and be out for only 8 hours and 48 minutes. If it stayed that low all year we’d be in a deep freeze possibly colder than Antarctica.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Earth near the December solsitce

DSCOVR satellite’s Earth Polychromatic Camera image of the Earth at 18:09 UTC (1:09 p.m.) December 19, 2017. We’re way up at the top just under the clouds at the top. It was actually partly cloudy that day. The DSCOVR satellite was in a halo orbit about the Earth-Sun L1 point, 934,498 miles (1,503,929 km) toward the Sun from Earth.

The Sun at the solstice

The Sun is shown against the celestial sphere at the moment of the December solstice. Saturn will be in conjunction later in the day, heading to the right along the ecliptic, which is the path of the Sun. Venus will pass the Sun, heading to the left on January 9th. The grid lines are right ascension in hours (h) and declination in degrees. The solstice occurs when the Sun crosses the 18 hour line. Note the Teapot asterism that is part of Sagittarius. Created using Stellarium.

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