The Winter solstice of 2018 accompanied by the full Moon, meteor shower: Everything you need to know

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While some parts of the U.S. have already experienced bone-chilling temperatures, the official start of the winter season not to take place until Friday — the date of this year’s winter solstice.

The annual winter solstice brings us the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere and experience just the opposite.

The 23.5-degree tilt in the Earth’s rotation-axis displays the different parts of the planet more exposure to the Sun at different times of the year, providing the seasons. In December, the Earth, the north pole turns away from the Sun, making the Southern Hemisphere most of the sunlight.

“Culturally, the solstices and equinoxes are typically used to indicate either the beginning of the seasons or the center points of the seasons,” Rick Kline of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility at Cornell University, recently told USA TODAY.


The date and time of the equinox vary each year, but usually falls between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23 according to The Weather Channel.

Here is everything you need to know about the event this year.

When is the winter solstice, exactly?

This year the solstice will take place at approximately 5:23 ET (3:23 MST), according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The Sun will appear at its lowest point around noon.

The day will feature 9 hours, 53 minutes and 21 seconds of daylight compared to our typical 12 hours or so, the NWS says.

It will be the coldest day of the year?Video

Not per se. In fact, the coldest temperatures usually not until days after the solstice.

“In fact, there is a delay between the shortest day of the year and the coldest with an average temperature, not only in New Mexico, but for most of the middle-and high-latitude locations,” the NWS points out.

The angle of the Sun remains low for a period of time after the solstice. The temperatures reportedly continued to decline during that time, until the Sun begins to rise higher in the sky.

“This lag in temperature occurs because even though the minutes of daylight, the surface of the earth continues to lose more energy than it receives from the sun,” the NWS reports.


But some areas will see freezing temperatures in the coming weeks — and the winter solstice is not necessarily only the fault of.

A polar vortex may be sweeping through the east coast later this month, and then do one of the toughest winters in years, climate researchers said to The Washington Post.

A polar vortex refers to the cold air and low pressure, which constantly surrounds him, both of the poles of the Earth. In the winter, a disruption in the polar vortex can occur as it tends to expand in the northern hemisphere, pushing the cold air further to the south, according to the NWS.

What is going on?

December is the full moon called the Cold Moon.
(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A full Moon and a meteor shower will accompany this year’s winter solstice.

The Moon, known as the Cold Moon comes on Dec. 22 — a day after the winter solstice. It will be at its best at 12:49 pm ET, NASA says.

According to NASA, a full moon has not yet coincided with the winter solstice since 2010 and is not expected to be a member of the solstice again until 2094.

The annual Ursid meteor shower is also expected to peak on Dec. 21 Dec. 22. It is the first time that this particular meteor shower overlaps with the Cold Moon in eight years, Fortune reports.

The Ursid meteor shower is not as impressive as the Geminid meteor shower, which peaked last week.

The Geminid shower, which contains waste from 3200 Phaethon, can shoot anywhere between 60 and 120 meteors per hour. The Ursid shower, however, sprinkles the night sky with a lot less — about five to 10 per hour, but an “outburst” could cause that number to double, says.

But you may have a hard time catching a glimpse of the fireballs, as the bright full moon could block.

Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.

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