Winter Solstice 2018! Google Doodle Celebrates Year's Shortest Day

Winter Solstice 2018! Google Doodle Celebrates Year's Shortest Day

Winter solstice is the point at which Earth's axis is tilted as far from the Sun as it will be all year.

According to NASA, at 2:31 a.m. EST on December 21, the moon will share the same celestial longitude as Aldebaran, an occurrence known as a conjunction.

Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon (by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar). As mentioned above, this Winter solstice 2018 is even more special as less than the day after the solstice, we will be able to see the last Full Moon of the year.

As the graphic above shows, it takes 89 days after the December solstice for Earth to reach the March equinox - that's when the most direct rays of the sun have slipped back up to the equator.

In 2013, a man from Medicine Hat, Alta. named Ian Hennes used a pinhole camera to track the sun's course across the sky from summer solstice to winter solstice.

Though the moon becomes full at 11.18 pm on Saturday, it will certainly appear big and bright on both the night of and night after the solstice. So you might want to get a good look on Friday night and again on Sunday night when the skies are expected to be a bit clearer. It marks the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.

How fitting that on the longest night of the year, the moon will be shining brightly.

There's also a meteor shower.

The Ursids meteor shower will be visible tonight.

A brilliant full moon rises at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2017.

In Maine, much smaller winter solstice celebrations take place around the state, such as Harpswell Heritage Land Trust's Winter Solstice Lantern Walk, the Maine Audubon Winter Solstice Celebration with Spirit Passages at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, and the Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church Winter Solstice event.