For those of us lucky enough to live in the Southern Hemisphere – only one in ten people – we are about to hit the Winter Solstice on Wednesday 21st June.
Happily for us it represents the darkest day of the year. At this time the sun’s path over the Australian sky (or wherever you are) is at its lowest point. Put another way, the South Pole is tilted as far from the sun as it will be for the entire year.
The worst of the weather isn’t over though, with July on average having the lowest minimum and maximum temperatures.
In terms of what that means for how dark it is when you get up in the morning, Geoscience Australia tells us:
An interesting idiosyncrasy relating to the summer solstice is that it does not feature the day with the earliest sunrise and latest sunset as is commonly expected. Similarly, on the winter solstice, the sunrise is not the latest and the sunset is not the earliest. However, this day does have the least amount of daylight hours.
Got it? Shortest day does not equal latest sunrise and earliest sunset.
As we know, people have been fascinated with solstices, lunar phases and so on for over 30,000 years (not a typo). One of the most fascinating things we found travelling in the UK was checking out standing stones/stone circles, knowing that they had been designed to correspond to moon phases.
For us, acknowledging the solstices is a great opportunity to do something you know people have been doing for tens of thousands of years, see the passing of the darkest day and most importantly use it as an excuse to watch the sun go down and have a beer on a Wednesday night.