We are just experiencing the Winter Solstice in Australia on June 21. The word solstice came into Middle English from Old French, from the Latin solstitium. This is a compound of sol- (sun) and -stitium (a stoppage), so the word means “the sun stands still”, reflecting the time when the Sun apparently stops moving north or south and then begins moving in the opposite direction.
In every year, there are two solstices. In the northern hemisphere, the June solstice happens when the Earth’s north pole is tilted its maximum amount towards the Sun. The December solstice happens when the north pole is most tilted away from the Sun. Thus, the June solstice is the day with the most sunshine, and the December solstice has the longest night. The opposite is true in southern hemisphere, with the Winter and Summer solstices in June and December respectively.
Appropriately, on this shortest day of the year, we've had a very wintry day with cold, rainy weather. However, in the afternoon the sun came out briefly as if to promise that from now on the day will start to grow longer.
This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Friday Photo Journal meme.