Posts Tagged ‘winter solstice’

Winter Solstice 2018: Full moons and more

December 21, 2018

Sunrise on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year.

In the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the first day of the winter season is the day of the year when the Sun is farthest south (on December 21st or 22nd). This day is known as the Winter Solstice. The term solstice means “sun stands still.” As the Earth rotates on its tilted axis and circles the sun each year, the sun appears to change its position very little during this time of the year.

This astronomical event officially arrives this Friday, December 21, 2018 at 5:23 p.m. EST. At this time of year, each day is about 24 hours, 30 seconds long. The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year. It occurs when the sun appears at its most southerly position.

This year’s winter solstice is unique since a full moon will appear full both Friday and Saturday nights. According to Michelle Ganney, the names of the moon originate from the Native Americans, who marked December’s full moon as the beginning of the coldest part of the year. The Long Night Moon is named after the longest night of the year on the winter solstice.

In addition, a meteor shower will be on display in the nighttime sky. The American Meteor Society points out that the Ursid meteor shower should be visible in the mid-Northern Hemisphere. At the peak there should be about 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before dawn. The shower gets its name because its meteors appear to emanate from Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper. Unfortunately, the full moon makes the meteors hard to spot.

A few years ago an observation on the winter solstice inspired this response which has implications for today.

Winter Solstice

And there will be signs in the sun; and in the moon,
and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations,
with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;

Luke 21:25

In the clear azure of the Eastern sky
Arises the winter solstice with its signs,
Marking out the shortest day of the year:
A full moonstone pin sets off Dawn’s velvet dress;
Like diamond clusters set in the ear,
Brilliant meteors linger to impress.
Wonders appear to those with eyes to see.
Out of darkness has emerged a great light,
Revealing a more sure word of prophecy.
Until the day star shall arise in our hearts,
Let us fix our eyes toward the Eastern sky.
And look up, for our redemption draws nigh.
Let us not just see signs each season brings
But understand the meaning of these things.

Third Day offers this reminders of the God we serve: “God of Wonders”