The longest night of the year will be experienced tonight, December 21, 2016.
According to reports, tonight marks the annual Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year before the days begin to grow longer again.
If wondering what the Winter Soltice is, based on reports marks the point when the Sun’s path across the sky is at its lowest in the southern sky. Nights grow increasingly longer as the Sun’s path dips lower over the months leading up to the Winter Solstice.
Reported further, most people know about this one. Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis (likely because our planet collided with some other massive object billions of years ago, back when it was still being formed).
So between September and March, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets less exposure to direct sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the north gets more direct sunlight and the Southern Hemisphere gets less.
Meanwhile, it is believed that Jesus’ birth was arbitrarily set on December 25, just a few days after the Winter Solstice, when the shift between day and night becomes noticeable—symbolic of the messianic promise of a brighter future.
The celebration of astronomical events in a religious context isn’t relegated to Christianity alone: Judaism, Islam, and other religions also hold traditions based on the regular movements of the skies.
Let us all enjoy the longest night of the year!!