The Winter Solstice

By Ben Garger

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On the twenty-first of December, it was officially the winter solstice. On that day, the sun would have been up for just over nine hours. That’s around six hours less than it is up in June, during the summer solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, our location, the sun would have seemed to be trying to stay close to the horizon. It rose, then quickly set. The axis of the earth is about 23.5 degrees. In winter, because of this, the north pole is facing the north star, Polaris. The Earth’s North Pole would have been pointing the furthest from the sun. If we were on Venus, we would barely have any solstices, the axis on Venus is 177 degrees, so the poles are almost upside down, and the poles never point away from the sun all that dramatically, so there is no noticeable solstice. Fun fact: Venus’s day is 243 Earth days. Its year is 224.65 days, so Venus’s year is actually shorter than the day!! Uranus and Jupiter have strange axes too. If you look at the picture above, you would notice that Jupiter’s axis is almost identical do Venus’s, just six degrees apart. Both are three degrees off of being vertical. All you need to do is flip the axes (pronounced axEEs, means two or more of an axis).

But Uranus is crazy, The picture above shows Uranus’s axis, it is almost a right angle, so for half the Uranus year, one side gets scorched, while the other is a cold, dark, realm without a glimpse of the sun. But Pluto, has by far, the strangest axis.

It is on such a strange axis, that it could go from hot to cold in a very short span of time.

Scientists say that if Earth had an axis like those of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, or Pluto, it would not be likely to survive very long. So have a happy winter solstice, and remember to be grateful for it!!

Images taken from: The New York Times, and http://www.rpdp.net/sciencetips_v3/E8B3.htm.

Information used from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/science/winter-solstice-december-21.html?hpw&rref=science&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well.

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