Making the Most of the Shortest Days of the Year

Ah, the winter solstice is here, that longest night and shortest day.  The solstice (sols=sun; tice=stand still) occurred at 11:48 EST on Monday, December 21, 2015.  This was the moment when the sun was directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere (see Figure 1).  Once it reached this point, the earth started to slowly tilt northward and the days began to get longer. Because the tilting of the earth’s axis is so slow, the day length is the same (stands still) for a day or two after the winter solstice.

Earth-lighting-winter-solstice_EN
Figure 1. Earth Lighting During The Winter Solstice https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth-lighting-winter-solstice_EN.png.

Then we slowly gain a minute or two of daylight each day until summer solstice (longest day) in June (Figure 2).

Earth-lighting-summer-solstice_EN
Figure 2. Earth Lighting During The Summer Solstice https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Earth-lighting-summer-solstice_EN.png.

Winter is a great time to explore New York’s State Parks and Historic Sites.  Some Parks offer opportunities to try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and, ice fishing.  Bring your own skis, ice fishing gear, snowshoes, snowmobiles, or skates to create your own winter fun in a Park or Historic Site.  Or take a hike go wildlife watching or attend a program.  Just remember to dress for the weather and you’ll have a grand time!

Post by Susan Carver, OPRHP.

 

 

 

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