Dec 18 (): Astronomers say December 21 is the winter solstice as the day marks the astronomical beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. Every year, December 21 is the shortest day of the year and the longest night.
On Dec. 21 the Earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees points its axis directly away from the Sun. This tilt causes the change in seasons. The sun will appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.
On this day, places on or south of the Antarctic Circle will receive 24 hours of sunshine and those on or north of the Arctic Circle will be in total darkness- this phenomenon is called Winter Solstice. Whereas, Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, which occurs in June.
Every year, winter solstices have come and gone normally with minimal notice, but this year winter solstice has generated great interest among the masses. The 2012 winter solstice has been highly talked about in all media, including movies, TV series, books and the most important is the Internet. Thousands of websites are reporting about this upcoming winter solstice,2012.
But, December 21, 2012 is not a day of doom. This day coincides with another phenomenon apart from winter solstice, it is precession of the equinoxes.
We are fast nearing December 21, 2012; the day, many believe, the world is about to end as predicted by ancient Mayans. But, on this date, the sun parallels itself with the centre of the spiral galaxy — the Milky Way, which roughly happens every 25,920 years, and such a phenomenon is called as precession of the equinoxes.
Ancient Egyptians had knowledge about precession of the equinoxes. More light is shed on precession of the equinoxes in the circular Zodiac found in the temple of Hathor at Dendera in Egypt.
The Mayans, who were the regular watchers of the movement of stars across the sky, also measured precession of the equinoxes. Their Long Count calendar that started in 3114 BC, was set to end exactly on this winter solstice — December 21, 2012. But, definitely the world will not end on December 21.