Google Doodle Celebrates the 2017 Winter Solstice Today

Celebrating the winter solstice in the prehistoric monument Stonehenge in 2016

Contrary to popular belief, the winter solstice isn't the earliest sunset of the year. Also, when the sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn. There are two solstices a year.

The date where Earth is the nearest to the star is marked by the summer solstice.

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. We are, quite literally, polar opposites.

For more than 4,000 years, Stonehenge has stood like a Neolithic sundial, marking the longest day of the year and the shortest - taking aim at the sun like a giant stone gunsight. After that, each day will gradually grow longer and the nights will grow shorter. At that time of the year, the Sun is moving at its slowest and so the solar day doesn't need to be quite as long because there's less ground to make up.

Exactly How Short Will The Day Be?

Every year there's a lottery to allow a few people to see this in person, but with 32,522 entries, you've got precious little chance of attending. Here in Las Vegas, we can expect 9.5 to 10 hours of sunlight. No sunlight for you!

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So far we have only considered the tilt of the Earth. Our coldest time of the year is nearly a month later, around January 14 each year.

This affects how much warmth and light different places get.

Let's give you the numbers for the day!

The Earth's North Pole will be tilted farthest from the sun at 11:27 a.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, according to the National Weather Service.

It so happens, that at the solstices (both summer and winter), the Earth has to rotate even more to bring the Sun back to due north. The opposite is true: the sun is in closer proximity than ever.

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