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Fun Fact #17: Equinox Or Solstice?

Today is the Winter solstice 2018 and will make its appearance in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:23 PM EST. This astronomical event marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Let’s take a look at some fun facts about the upcoming events of the solstice, full moon and meteor shower.

What is the difference between an equinox and a solstice?

Let’s have the experts explain this in simple terms. Here is a simple and beautiful answer from  //study.com

“The difference between solstice and equinox is the amount of daylight that it represents in the year. Because Earth is tilted and spins around the sun, there will be days in the year that have different amounts of sunlight and night time.

Solstice is a word that describes the days that have the most or least daylight in the year. Winter solstice, a day that usually falls on December 21st, is the longest night of the year. Summer solstice, a day that usually falls on June 21st, is the longest day of the year. If you’re south of the equator, then the opposite is true: the winter solstice is in June and the summer solstice is in December. Equinox, on the other hand, is a word that describes the days that have even amount of daylight and night time. spring and fall equinoxes are two days within the year that have equal amounts of daylight and night time.”

Since we are feeling the holiday spirit and the skies of winter are full of hope and new year, here are some interesting fun facts (and great links) from CNN Travel on the Winter Solstice, the full moon and the meteor shower due in the next night or two:

So, what’s going on with this full moon?

Our last full moon of the year will come less than a day after the solstice. Again, for those of you who love precision, it will occur on Saturday, December 22, at 17:49 Universal Time (that’s 12:49 p.m. ET), EarthSky says.

However, when you’re looking out into a clear sky on Friday night, the moon will appear full to you — and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.

Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon (by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar).

If you’re wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again. So, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but still, you don’t see this too often.

Now what about that meteor shower?

The annual Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak a day or two after the solstice. You might be able to see up to 10 “shooting stars” per hour depending on your location.

The website In the Sky has a great feature that helps you figure out where to watch and how many meteors you might see. For instance, people in South Florida might expect just three per hour while people in Juneau, Alaska, might expect seven per hour.

One caveat: That Cold Moon will be so bright that it could outshine some of the meteors as they streak in, making them harder to spot.” Read more….

 Happy Winter Solstice. Don’t let the darkness get you down. We are on the rebound to long and sunny afternoons.

special thanks to the many resources and links you will find in this article.  Thanks to CNN and study.com for the wonderful content. 

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