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What is the Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction?

Written by Vidhi Jain, a grade 7 student.

The Winter Solstice takes place when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice a year, once in each hemisphere…

By I Kid You Not , in Astronomy Science Space , at January 6, 2021 Tags: , ,

Written by Vidhi Jain, a grade 7 student

‘Solstice’ is a word that is derived from the Latin word meaning the stalled sun. Solstice is a moment in the year when the Sun’s apparent path is farthest north or south from Earth’s Equator.

The Winter Solstice takes place when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice a year, once in each hemisphere.

There are two types – the summer solstice which occurs in June, and the winter solstice which occurs in December.

The winter solstice is the solstice that marks the onset of winter, at the time of the shortest day, about 22 December in the northern hemisphere and 21 June in the southern hemisphere. It is known to celebrate the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun and is believed to hold powerful energy for regeneration, renewal, and self-reflection.

It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. The winter solstice occurs during the hemisphere’s winter.

Another term you might have come across is the great conjunction – this is a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn when the two planets seem to be closest together in the sky. They are named “great” for being by far the rarest of the conjunctions between naked-eye planets.

Do you know when the great conjunction occurred last? The most recent great conjunction occurred on 21 December 2020(Yes, your right it’s the same day as the winter solstice) and the next will occur on 4 November 2040.

During the 2020 great conjunction, the two planets were separated in the sky by 6 arcminutes at their closest point, which was the closest distance between the two planets since 1623. Well, at least one good and exciting incident took place in the year 2020. And if you’re wondering how often the great conjunction occurs then here is the answer to your question.

Some websites say it has been nearly 400 years, while others say it’s been almost 800 years. Indeed, the last time these two planets appeared so close was on July 16, 1623, when they were only 5 arc minutes apart (that’s actually 397 years ago). Here is another shocking news, Google is using its logo Monday to not only celebrate the first day of winter but a rare celestial event. The Monday doodle honors the Winter Solstice, which takes place on December 21. Other than that, It also commemorates the Great Conjunction.

To conclude, I’d like to say let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.


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