Photo: Filip Fuxa (Shutterstock) For most people, the winter solstice marks one of the most predictable non-events in the calendar year. It’s usually associated with the onset of a long winter and all the emotional drudgery that comes with it. But the event remains a fixture of our year-end activities because of its millennia-spanning cultural significance, even if it gets a bad rap in the Northern Hemisphere for being the darkest day of the year. Here’s what you need to know about the winter solstice, including a very special cosmic coincidence happening this evening. What are solstices? The winter solstice marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun reaches its most southerly position. It’s the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight, as the sun’s location above the Tropic of Capricorn (23.43 degrees south of the Equator ) ensures the day is the year’s most fleeting. Both the summer and winter solstices are the product of the Earth’s tilt. However, while we brace for months of frigid temperatures in the northern hemisphere, countries with much more southern latitudes such as Australia, South Africa and Argentina are relishing the onset of beach weather with the summer solstice, A.K.A. the longest day of the year. But where there is contrast, there is also balance: The northern hemisphere’s summer solstice typically falls on June 20, while the same date marks the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The phenomenon occurs because of the Earth’s […]