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A diagram of how the Sun moves through the sky on the winter solstice.
Click on image for full size

The Winter Solstice

The winter solstice, which occurs around December 21, is the shortest day of the year! The Sun doesn't get very high in the sky for people living in places north of the equator like the United States, Europe, and China. The Sun is above the horizon for less than 12 hours on that day.

The diagram to the left shows how the Sun may appear to move through your sky on the winter solstice, if you live at a latitude of 40° N, around Topeka, Kansas for instance.

The Sun has been getting lower and lower in the sky since the autumnal equinox around September 21. As the Sun gets lower, and as the days get shorter, the northern part of the Earth starts to cool off as winter approaches.

The Sun is very low in the sky! Compare this picture to what you would see in the summer or on an equinox.

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