SANTA MONICA, CA – The darkest day of the year is just around the corner, meaning the Santa Monica winter solstice is only days away.
The heavenly holiday celebrated through the centuries when the start of light arrives in Santa Monica on December 21st at 7:59 a.m. PST. If you’re not a fan of daylight, you’re in luck – on the first day of winter we only see nine hours and 53 minutes of sunlight.
Whether you’re a fan or not, Santa Monica residents can do a lot to enjoy the winter season, including a family celebration for the winter solstice full moon celebration of yoga, crafts, and stories at Lifeguard Tower 26 in Santa Monica on Saturday at 3pm: 30 o’clock. RSVP is required and tickets are $ 18 per family.
For those who want to extend their winter solstice celebrations into the evening – or maybe into the next day – here’s a bonus: the Ursid meteor shower will likely peak on the morning of December 22nd.
The annual Ursid meteor shower, which takes place from December 17th to 26th every year, is a small meteor shower with only five to ten shooting stars per hour. Nevertheless, depending on the weather, an almost moonless sky in Santa Monica ensures excellent visibility conditions.
The National Weather Service is forecasting rain likely for our region from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, mostly cloudy, with a low of around 49.
According to EarthSky.org, Ursid meteors shine most strongly near the star Kochab in the Little Dipper. The star Polaris – or the North Star – is also part of the Little Dipper. If you can’t find the Little Dipper, use the Big Dipper. No matter what time of year you are looking, the two outer stars in the Big Dipper’s bowl always point to Polaris and mark the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.
The solstice is not something you see, but something that occurs – although you may want to mark the 2021 solstice by taking a photo of your shadow at noon. Since the sun is in its deepest arc above the horizon, it casts long shadows. On the day of the winter solstice, the shadows around noon are the longest of the year.
The winter solstice occurs at the exact moment when the North Pole is furthest from the sun. On Sunday the days get a little longer every day until the summer solstice, after which the days get shorter again.
At the winter solstice, the sun seems to be standing still directly above the Tropic of Capricorn, which is 23.5 degrees south of the equator. During the summer solstice, which occurs in June, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer.
The winter solstice, the oldest known winter festival, is derived from the Latin word “solstitium”, which means “quiet sun”. In ancient times it was both spiritually and scientifically indispensable and marked the change of the seasons. The best place in the world to watch the winter solstice is at the Stonehenge prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, believed to have been erected by ancient Celtic druids to pinpoint the exact location of the winter solstice sunset.
The winter solstice may explain why Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in December. The Bible doesn’t say exactly when Jesus was born. Some people believe that December 25th was chosen as the date of Christ’s birth by Pope Julius I to replace the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festival called “Saturnalia” with a Christian holiday.
The late Harry Yeide, who taught religion at George Washington University for nearly 50 years and died in 2013, once told National Geographic that as the Christmas celebration moved west, “the date used to celebrate the winter solstice was somehow available was made for conversion in celebration of Christmas. “
For example, several rituals related to Christmas – banquets, gifts, and decorative wreaths – are rooted in pagan rituals for the winter solstice.
It may surprise you that the earliest sunsets and latest sunrises do not happen around the winter solstice. It seems counterintuitive, but as Earthsky.org explains, the key is to understand solar noon, the time of day when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. The true solar noon occurs 10 minutes earlier on the clock at the beginning of December than at the solstice. If true noon occurs later at the solstice, so do sunrise and sunset times.
“It is this discrepancy between time and solar time that causes the northern hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the southern hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice,” says Earthsky.org. “The discrepancy arises primarily from the inclination of the earth’s axis. A second, but additional, factor that contributes to this discrepancy between noon and solar noon comes from the earth’s elliptical – elongated – orbit around the sun.
“Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we are closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit. Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes at the beginning of January. So we are moving fastest in orbit now, a little faster than our average speed of around 30 kilometers per second.The discrepancy between solar time and time is greater around the solstice in December than around the solstice in June, because we are closer to the sun at this time of year are. “