Today is December Winter Solstice (Friday, December 21, 2018) which starts at 5:22 pm in Niagara Falls!
1. Today is the shortest day of the year
Niagara’s sunrise today is at 7:44 a.m. and the sunset is at 4:44 p.m. We have 8 hours, 59 minutes, 38 seconds of daylight. In most locations in the Northern Hemisphere (north of the equator), the shortest day of the year is on this date.
2. We lost 3 seconds of daylight today compared to yesterday, but tomorrow we will gain back 1 second of daylight for the first full day of winter.
The loss and gain of daylight time is not consistent throughout the year. The change of daylight time is always minimal at the winter and summer solstices. For example, by late January 2019, we’ll gain over 2 minutes of daylight per day, and by late February, we will gain almost three minutes of daylight per day.
3. The winter solstice occurs when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic Of Capricorn & reaches its most southern declination of -23.4° when the North Pole is tilted the furthest away from the Sun.
Because the earth spins on a tilted axis, the farther north from the equator you are, the less sunlight you’ll receive during the winter solstice and the shorter the day it will be. Niagara we will see about 9 hours of daylight today. Whitehorse, Yukon will only receive 5 hours, 37 minutes and 51 seconds of daylight today. Even farther north in Iqaliut, Nunavut today’s daylight will only be 4 hours, 20 minutes and 14 seconds long.
4. Just because we have the least amount of sunlight today doesn’t mean it will be the coolest day of the year.
There is a lag between the shortest day of the year and the coldest average temperatures because of the Earth’s oceans. It takes a significant amount of time for the ocean to release all of the sun’s energy that it collected during the warm months. That is why our average temperatures are cooler in January than they are in December. You will find the same delay between the longest day of the year and the warmest average temperatures in the summer as well. The time of the lag will also vary depending on location.
5. A full moon will appear to be in the night sky
Although December’s full moon officially isn’t until December 22, 2018, look up in the night sky to see what is also known as the Cold Moon. Though the forecast predicts flurries and cloud cover tonight, a brief clearing may allow those in the Niagara Region a glimpse of a stunning nighttime view!
The Shortest day of the year could be an opportunity to drive down the Niagara Parkway and see the Festival of Lights at their best earlier in the day!
The Niagara Winter Festival of Lights features a Fireworks show tonight at 9pm. Also catch the animated light installations, projections and entertainment – as you drive down the Niagara Parkway through Dufferin Islands and by the Falls! The festival is marked with many weeks of celebration, which literally shines up the entire Niagara Falls destination with its brilliance and dazzles people with its joy.