The southern hemisphere winter solstice: Thursday 21st June
Thursday 21st June was the shortest day of the year for the southern hemisphere. The solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs twice a year in June and December as the Earth goes around the sun.
But why is it the winter solstice the shortest day of the year?
Well the earth is actually tilted at about 23 degrees but the sun is fixed. As a result, at some point the “top” of the earth is closer to the sun than the “bottom”. The winter solstice here in Australia is when the southern hemisphere is the furthest from the sun.
Every year the winter solstice, for the southern hemisphere, happens between June 20th and 22nd, while the summer solstice, which corresponds to the longest day of the year happens between December 20th and 22nd.
From Thursday, the days will get longer as the earth will keep on orbiting while the southern hemisphere will start its journey to get closer to the sun until the summer solstice in December.
The shortest day of the year is a good time to catch the late sunrise and early sunset.
Of course in the northern hemisphere, the solstices are reversed. While we are having our shortest day of the year (winter solstice), the northern hemisphere is enjoying their longest day (summer solstice).
What are equinoxes then?
Twice a year, the position of the earth is straight relative to the sun because of the tilt of its axis. This astronomical phenomenon is called an equinox. During an equinox, the rays of the sun shine directly on the equator. It happens on March 20th and September 22nd.
In many countries, solstices and equinoxes mark the official end of a season and the beginning of another.