The official beginning of Winter (the moment of the Winter Solstice) will happen this evening at 6:38 p.m. EST (23:38 UTC).
A helpful explanation of the Solstice is given on the website TimeAndDate.com:
"The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight.
"The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.
"On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year."
Many cultures throughout history have noted and celebrated the Winter Solstice (quite a few current-day traditions can be traced to much earlier Solstice celebrations). Particularly on Ocracoke, where seasons, weather, and the natural environment affect our lives so profoundly, we often note the Solstice (and the imminent return of longer days and eventually warmer seasons) as we journey through this quiet and dark period of the year.
Click on the photo below to view our selection of ships-in-bottles from Village Craftsmen's online catalog.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article, with a number of photos, documenting the history of water cisterns on Ocracoke Island. Click on the following link to go directly there: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102110.htm.