Home > Ephemeris Program, Seasons > 12/22/2020 – Ephemeris – Winter is going to be colder before it starts to warm up in a little over a month

12/22/2020 – Ephemeris – Winter is going to be colder before it starts to warm up in a little over a month

December 22, 2020

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:18. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:47 tomorrow morning.

Now that winter is here, it’s going to get snowier and colder even though the amount of heat the Northern Hemisphere gets from the Sun bottomed out yesterday. There are two consequences of the Earth’s axial tilt with regard to the Sun on the winter solstice. First, the Sun is only up 8 hours 48 minutes. Second at its highest at local noon the Sun is so low, only 22 degrees above the horizon around here that its heat is spread out over a greater area so is diluted to only 40% of the peak heat we get from the Sun at noon on the summer solstice. And on the summer solstice the Sun stays up almost six and three-quarters of an hour longer. Even though it doesn’t feel like it at our latitude winter is 4 days shorter than summer. You’ll find out why in less than two weeks.

Addendum

Solstices

Comparing the sun’s path at the summer and winter solstices. This is a stereographic representation of the whole sky which distorts the sky and magnifies the size of the sun’s path near the horizon.

Earth's position at the solstices and equinoxes

Earth’s position at the solstices and equinoxes. This is an not to scale oblique look at the Earth’s orbit, which is nearly circular. The Earth is actually farthest from the Sun on July 4th. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: ESO (European Southern Observatory which explains the captions in German and English.

 

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