Hurry up ... today is the shortest day!

2018-06-21 06:00
=Singathwa Poswa from the Nelson Mandela Bay Science & Technology Centre together with Muir College learners Jesse Salt (left) and Tyler Renison (right) at one of the exhibitions explaining the solstice.          Photo:SUPPLIED

=Singathwa Poswa from the Nelson Mandela Bay Science & Technology Centre together with Muir College learners Jesse Salt (left) and Tyler Renison (right) at one of the exhibitions explaining the solstice. Photo:SUPPLIED

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TODAY is the shortest day of the year, so hurry up and get ready ... for tonight will also be the longest night of the year!

Although it will be the shortest day by only one minuscule second, in the sky an astronomical phenomenon is happening!

At exactly 12:06:30 the sun reaches its highest or furthest position north, before it will start to move back towards the south. At that moment, when the sun reaches its highest position north, it will for a split second stand still before tilting back and reverses its direction. This means summer is slowly but surely on its way!

The term solstice is derived from the Latin scientific term solstitium. Containing the Latin sol meaning “the sun” and sistere meaning “to make stand” or “to stand still”.

Yesterday’s day duration was 10:29:50, today will be 10:29:49 and tomorrow will be 10:29:50 again with one second more of sunlight! Today’s official sunrise time was at 06:54:42 and sunset is at 17:24:31.

For us South Africans who love the outdoors, this means we are second by second heading towards longer daylight to enjoy exercising, adventures, a braai or whatever tickles your fancy during summertime.

For all locations south of the Equator, today is called midwinter, winter solstice or hibernal solstice. For all to the north today is midsummer or summer solstice.

This astronomical event happens twice a year, once in winter (June) and once in summer (December) when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole.

During summer the day of the solstice is the longest day of the year, whilst during winter it is the shortest day of the year.

In terms of daylight, today is 4 hours, 32 minutes shorter than on December solstice (21st) when the sun will reach its highest or furthest point south!

Solstice exhibition at Science Centre

Those interested in how this astronomical phenomenon happens can visit the Nelson Mandela Bay Science & Technology Centre in Lower Drostdy Street, Uitenhage.

The centre has an interesting exhibition explaining solstice and the movements of the sun.

-HEILIE COMBRINCK

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