Later today the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn 23.5 degrees south of the equator. (Think Australia, Chile, Brazil and South Africa.) Lovely. Tomorrow the days for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere begin to lengthen. Imperceptibly at first. We won’t notice it for several days. “Solstice,” after all, is Latin for “Solstitium” or “sun standing still” which is what the sun appears to do. (We’ve known better ever since the Catholic Church sent Copernicus out to prove that the earth is at the center of the universe. Copernicus flunked the assignment.)
Nonetheless, the days begin to lengthen at 0608 UTC today. Which is actually tomorrow. UTC is the modern term for Greenwich Time (GMT) and it won’t be December 21st anymore in Europe. In fact, it won’t even be December 21st on the east coast of the United States. It will be 1:08AM, December 22. But from the Mountain Time zone west it will still be December 21st. 11:08 MST, 10:08PST and so on. Giving western residents of the United States two full days to celebrate. Plus the full moon is on the 23rd so one could stretch it to three days.
No matter. Where ever you are, Happy Solstice!