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Shortest day of the year clocks in 10hr 34min north of the equator
By Mohan Vadayar December 20, 2013
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SHARJAH: Sunday, Dec.22, is the shortest day of the year in the UAE, with 10 hours and 34 minutes of daylight, incidentally exactly the same amount of daylight as last year.

Dec.22 is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Do these timings of sunrise and sunset on this day – 7am and 5:34pm respectively – as quoted by The Gulf Today, help constitute any theory in astronomy? Only experts can comment on this astronomical phenomenon which shows no change in the celestial positioning of the earth.

Temperatures will also continue to drop as the official winter season begins next Sunday.

Sharjah recorded a maximum 27°C on Thursday, the time at which this report was filed.

Last year’s winter solstice was a day of anxiety in some other parts of the world due to a hoax “Doom’s Day prediction”.

The winter solstice is the official start of the winter season in the northern hemisphere of the globe as the sun, on this day, reaches its southern-most inclination.

“We in the UAE receive just ten-and-a-half hours of sunlight during the next couple of days, marking the shortest days of the year on Dec 21, 22 and 23. During the summer solstice days of June 20, 21 and 22, we get more than 14 hours of ‘living day light’,” said Mohamed Talib Al Salami, the chairman of Adco Astronomy Club and Member of Abu Dhabi Heritage Group.

The same thing happens to people in the southern hemisphere, as the sun is right on top of the Tropic of Capricorn at 13.5 degrees south latitude. The situation is reversed when the sun travels to the Tropic of Cancer in the north, he added.

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between Dec.20 and 23. On this date, all places above the latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below the latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight. “The interesting thing is that those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year,” Al Salami said.

On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight. Those living or travelling north from the Arctic Circle to the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.

The solstice is also responsible for the seasons through controlling the intensity and duration of sunlight received at various locations around the planet, he added.

The December solstice has played an important role in the lives of many people in ancient times. To this day, the world is still influenced by various traditions linked to the observance of the December solstice.

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