Along with the coming holidays, winter solstice is just around the corner, on December 21 at 11:49pm EST. The solstice varies yearly sometime between the 20th and 23rd of December, most often falling on the 21st or 22nd. The last solstice to occur on the 23rd was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303. A December 20th solstice is extremely rare and will occur again in 2080.
Solstices are opposite on either side of the equator, so the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere and vice versa. Christmastime in Melbourne, Australia may see temperatures close to 100 degrees for their summer solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in terms of the fewest hours of sunlight. It’s when the North Pole is tipped at it’s farthest angle from the sun. On the solstice, the night is almost a full 12 hours and all nights between the autumn equinox and leading up to the solstice are ideal for stargazing because of their lengthening duration. It is also the time when the earth is turned away from the Milky Way which means less dust and clearer visibility.