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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: © 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. 

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  • rod
    Admin said:
    After Saturday's winter solstice, the length of daytime in the north slowly increases.

    Last Winter Solstice of the Decade Occurs Today! : Read more

    FYI. For those who use telescopes and safe solar filters, the Sun's angular size today is larger in the telescope view than during the summer solstice on 21-Jun-19 this year. The Sun was in Taurus then and about 1889" angular size. Today the Sun is in Sagittarius with slightly larger than one arcminute size difference, about 1951" angular size. Not only does the Sun's position along the ecliptic change like the solar analemma, the Sun's size does too in telescope views, especially when viewing at 1-degree true field of view. Calibrated imaging equipment can record this size difference, similar to a Full Moon at perigee and Full Moon at apogee images. I am tracking Mars now early in the morning through opposition in October 2020. Viewing celestial events like this shows the heliocentric solar system in action - a different experience then reading about the subject in a textbook. You can watch it happen.
    Reply
  • Saracen1955
    Despite all that was said about the turn of the Century back in 2000, people still don't get it. This was NOT the last winter solstice of the decade. That will come in December 2020. A decade is ten years, not 9. To refresh; there was never a year 0 it went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D,, nor were you ever 0 years old (if you have a Happy 0th birthday card, hang on to it, it is worth more than the most expensive work of art in the Louvre!). xxx1 marks the first year of a decade, century, or your life, then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. If you were born in 2010, your first birthday was in 2011, and your 10th birthday is in 2020, not 2019. Likewise, the first year this the decade was 2011 and then goes 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, AND 2020.
    Reply
  • BoulderBill
    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, Doris, but the last solstice of the decade will occur in 2020. (Something to do with the Gregorian calendar having no year 0. ;))
    Reply
  • Saracen1955
    Actually, it has nothing to do with the Gregorian Calendar. That was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII (hence the name Gregorian Calendar) in 1582 (AD). As I mentioned above, (well, I didn't bother to state that it wa the Julian Calendar, assumed that would be known) it's because the Julian Calendar (45 BC until 1582 AD) went from year 1 BC to year 1 AD, no year 0. The Gregorian Calendar differs from the Julian in that it uses a"Tropical or Soalr Year" (the length of time it takes Earth to orbit the Sun) to create a system based on equal 365-day years with irregular months. The variation in the Earth's orbit is why the calendar has to be tweaked every four years with a Leap Year. Without a Leap Year, the Gregorian Calendar would lose about six hours every year.
    Reply
  • sjlimpster
    Saracen1955 said:
    Despite all that was said about the turn of the Century back in 2000, people still don't get it. This was NOT the last winter solstice of the decade. That will come in December 2020. A decade is ten years, not 9. To refresh; there was never a year 0 it went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D,, nor were you ever 0 years old (if you have a Happy 0th birthday card, hang on to it, it is worth more than the most expensive work of art in the Louvre!). xxx1 marks the first year of a decade, century, or your life, then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. If you were born in 2010, your first birthday was in 2011, and your 10th birthday is in 2020, not 2019. Likewise, the first year this the decade was 2011 and then goes 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, AND 2020.

    Actually, I believe you are incorrect. The first year of life begins with seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and finally, years. And actually, while we don't celebrate "O" years, many do celebrate other milestones that occur on the first year of life. NO one begins their first day on earth as 1 year old. And 0 is considered a number, mathematically. A decade is 10 years, yes, but it begins with 0, not 1, because one year marks the culmination of 12 months/52 weeks/365 days (more or less) already passed. At 6 mos of age, a person is, in effect, 0 years old.
    Reply
  • Saracen1955
    sjlimpster said:
    Actually, I believe you are incorrect. The first year of life begins with seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and finally, years. And actually, while we don't celebrate "O" years, many do celebrate other milestones that occur on the first year of life. NO one begins their first day on earth as 1 year old. And 0 is considered a number, mathematically. A decade is 10 years, yes, but it begins with 0, not 1, because one year marks the culmination of 12 months/52 weeks/365 days (more or less) already passed. At 6 mos of age, a person is, in effect, 0 years old. Show me a calendar that shows a year 0 between 1BC ans 1 AD. You can't because no such thing exists. The very first decade of the Anno Domini went from 1 AD to 10 AD, and everything follows from there.
    You are talking about the beginning of a year. but we are talking about the END of the year at which point you are one year old, just as we are talking about the END of the decade which is xxx0, not xxx9. You tell me I'm wrong, and then make my case for me stating that a year is not complete until after 365 days. Your point is proceeding from an invalid assumption. What is the first day of the month, day 0 or day 1? What is the first day of the year, January 0 or January 1? All the same thing. Show me a calendar which shows the year 1 BC and the year 1 AD with a year 0 in between. You can/t because no such thing exists. The first decade of the Anno Domini era went from 1 AD to 10 AD, and all else follows from there.

    The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century of the Anno Domini era or Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001, and will end on December 31, 2100. It is the first century of the 3rd millennium.
    21st century - Wikipedia
    The same applies to decades, years, and months.
    Reply