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Google Doodle Celebrates Last Winter Solstice of the Decade

The December solstice viewed at the start of the decade, on Dec. 21, 2010.
The December solstice viewed at the start of the decade, on Dec. 21, 2010. (Image credit: Robert Simmon/NASA/2010 EUMETSAT)

Earth celebrated a special occasion on Saturday night (Dec. 21) as the December solstice officially heralds celestial winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere will mark the beginning of summer. Google celebrated the seasonal milestone with an adorable Google doodle. 

The exact moment of solstice occurred at 11:19 p.m. EST (0419 GMT on Dec. 22), according to the Farmer's Almanac. At this point, the sun is directly over the latitude known as the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the furthest south that the sun will ever be over Earth's surface. 

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Google celebrated the Dec. 22, 2019 solstice with pair of doodles celebrating the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Google celebrated the Dec. 22, 2019 solstice with pair of doodles celebrating the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. (Image credit: Google)
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Google celebrated the Dec. 22, 2019 solstice with pair of doodles celebrating the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Google celebrated the Dec. 22, 2019 solstice with pair of doodles celebrating the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. (Image credit: Google)

Google marked the milestone with an illustration of the Earth with a snowman on top. A second doodle celebrated the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Up north, the night will be the longest it's been all year, while down south of the equator, people will have experienced their longest day of the year. 

Related: December Solstice 2018! Satellites See the Seasons Change from Space

After Saturday's winter solstice, the length of daytime in the north will slowly increase. Then, when it's the northern hemisphere's turn to reach summer solstice in late June, daylight slowly shortens each day and the process begins anew. During the June solstice, the sun is as far north as it can get, sitting straight overhead at the Tropic of Cancer. 

The solstices and seasonal changes are caused by the tilt of Earth's axis, which causes the hemispheres to take turns facing the sun throughout the planet's trip around the star. 

It's the reason that the poles are as frigid as they are — their extreme latitudes mean that the sun can never be directly overhead. 

Follow Doris Elin Urrutia on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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Doris Elin Urrutia

Doris Elin Urrutia joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2017. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her work was previously published in collaboration with London Mining Network. Her passion for geology and the cosmos started when she helped her sister build a model solar system in a Bronx library. Doris also likes learning new ways to prepare the basil sitting on her windowsill. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.