Today was perihelion – or, in other words, the day of the year that our earth is nearest to the sun. The best part of today, in my opinion, is that it’s also the last day of four in which the sun rises the latest that it will all year! Though most people recognize that Winter Solstice (on or near December 21st each year) is the shortest day of the year, not as many realize that the sun does not necessarily rise the latest nor set the earliest on that day.
There are countless regional variations, dependent on latitude and longitude, but here in Ottawa, Canada, sunset was actually earliest in the early to mid part of December, arriving around 4:20 PM from December 4 to December 16. By December 17, the sun was already beginning to set later each day! The days were still shortening at that time, however, due to the still-increasing lateness of sunrise – in fact, the sun continued to rise later each day right up to December 31, when it more or less stalled out until today, and tomorrow our days will at last begin to lengthen once more at both ends of the day.
Also interesting to note is that, in the days right around the Winter Solstice, the shortening or lengthening of the days had slowed to a difference of merely a few short seconds each day but already that time has lengthened to a full minute per day and by mid-March the days will be lengthening by over three minutes per day.
While there’s still a lot of winter left, things are already looking up!