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The science behind the Winter Solstice

10:12 AM, Dec 21, 2011   |    comments
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It always happens around the same time of year - between Dec. 21 and 23 - and for the Denver area, it means we'll stay cold for a few more months.

This year, the Winter Solstice occurs Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 10:30 p.m. MST. At precisely that moment, the sun's most direct rays move over the Tropic of Capricorn, a latitude line located 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

It's basically the moment our end of the earth is tilted farthest away from the sun. It's our shortest day of the year, and because we get less sunlight, our temperatures are generally colder. Hence, winter begins.

The Winter Solstice happens at the same moment for everyone. The west coast will bring in winter at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Our friends in the central time zone will see winter begin at 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 21. However, for folks on the east coast, winter will officially start at 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 22. That's why some calendars say winter begins on Dec. 21 and others on Dec. 22. It all depends on where you live.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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