WINTER SOLSTICE: THE LONGEST NIGHT by Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator


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Adventure Science Center Blog

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WINTER SOLSTICE: THE LONGEST NIGHT by Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator

Happy Winter Solstice!

We hear that said in scientific communities around the country, but what is the solstice exactly? A picture of the mythical druids dancing around stone circles chanting may come up in your mind, but the real scientific reason for the solstice is just as phenomenal.


The Latin translation of the word solstice is “sun stoppage.” In winter, it marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. But, how does this happen?

To begin, the solstice stems from the Earth’s position relative to that of the sun. You may notice that as the fall and winter months start, a change occurs on the Earth as the planet tilts on its access, bringing shorter days and longer nights. The temperatures drop and we reach for our warm winter wear, but what you may not realize is that the solstice is the official kick-off for the winter months.

Now, let’s get down to the science…


The winter solstice occurs when the Sun hovers over the Tropic of Capricorn before it heads north. On Earth, this means the North Pole is at its furthest tilt away from the Sun at precisely 23.5 degrees and is bathed in total darkness.

On the opposite side of the globe, the South Pole sees the Sun on full display during the longest day of their year. It happens at the same moment around the entire world.

Though the days will begin to be long for us in the northern hemisphere after the winter solstice, the temperature will not automatically jump up. So don't reach for the bikini just yet.


So when will the winter solstice come to Nashville?

Set your alarms for 4:22pm on Friday, Dec. 21 to celebrate the official start of winter! No matter if you’re standing on a Nashville street corner or dancing among the stones, the solstice is one pretty magical moment to celebrate our coldest months of the year.

So, with that all said, Happy Solstice to you!

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- Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator

Posted by Molly Hornbuckle at 9:00 AM
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