The above dates and times from 1999 to 2003 are as accurate as the astronomical calculations on The Dome of the Sky web site. 1 The dates and times for 2004 to 2010 were taken from Eric Weisstein's Treasure Trove of Astronomy. 2The latter are based on the Scientific Astronomer computer program which typically gives times that differ up to 15 minutes from the calculations of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Later years are taken from the Wikipedia chart. 3
An online "Easy Date Converter" calculates the dates and times of the equinoxes and solstices within 20 seconds. 4 Times are in UT (Universal Time). This used to be called Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. In North America, you can find your local time by subtracting:
The winter solstice for 1999 was rather special. It involved the coincidence of the solstice, full moon and lunar perigee on the same date. (The moon's orbit around the earth is not circular; it is elliptical. "Perigee" simply means the point in the moon's orbit where it is closest to earth.) At this solstice, the moon was both full and at its maximum size (about 14% larger that at its minimum size). The last time that this happened was in 1866.
The following full moon on 2000-JAN-21 was also unusual - it was eclipsed by the earth's shadow.
There was a lunar eclipse on the same day as the winter solstice on 2010-DEC-21. It lasted about five hours. This was the first such ocurrance in many centuries. See: http://youtu.be/.
The solstice on 2012-DEC-21 is also rather special because an enormous pile of books have been written that link this particular solstice to a roll-over in the ancient Mayan calendar. A search of the Amazon.com web site for "2012 solstice" found 419 results of which many were books predicting all sorts of events. They range from a major spiritual advance on the part of all humans to the complete destruction of the Earth. Many of the books' authors are sincere; others feel that if they can generate enough fear in the population, they will sell a lot of books and laugh all the way to the bank at people's gullability.
We see no reason why this solstice should be any different from previous solstices. However, the books that predict an end-time disaster will probably trigger many suicides worldwide by folks that actually believe the predictions and would rather die on their own terms rather than go through some sort of disintegration of the world. We predict that there will be many authors with blood on their hands. More information.
|List of winter solstice web sites
JPC Artworks has a selection of free solstice cards available in December that you can Email to a friend. See: http://www.jpc-artworks.com/
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
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