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Winter Solstice 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014, 10:13 GMT -

Sunday 21st December marks the Winter Solstice here in the UK and across the Northern Hemisphere.

Also referred to as the Shortest Day, it marks the point in the year when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted furthest away from the Sun.

It also marks the start of astronomical winter, although for meteorologists, winter started at the beginning of December.

The exact time of the Winter Solstice varies slightly each year, but it usually occurs between the 20th and 23rd of December.

Daylight hours are at their shortest at this time of the year, with the UK typically only seeing between six and eight hours of daylight by mid to late December.

The further north you go, the shorter the day gets with areas within the Arctic Circle remaining dark throughout the whole day.

Although there are several months of winter left to endure, at least after Sunday the days will slowly become longer.

Days grow shorter and longer through the year due to the fact that the Earth is titled on its axis by around 23.5 degrees.

 UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS: Send us your sunrise pictures 

During the Northern Hemisphere winter, the top ‘half’ of the Earth is titled away from the Sun and therefore receives less energy.

However, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun and this is why places like Australia and South Africa have their summer at this time of year.

Therefore Sunday also marks the Longest Day in the Southern Hemisphere, or the Summer Solstice for them.

Will we be able to see the Winter Solstice sunrise?

Many people across the country observe the Winter Solstice by watching the sunrise on the Shortest Day. You can see the estimated sunrise times across the British Isles on Sunday morning below.

Unfortunately, for many north-western areas of the country there will be a lot of cloud first thing Sunday morning with overcast conditions affecting much of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The best chance of seeing the sunrise will be across south-east England and East Anglia, where although it will be cold start, the skies should be fairly clear.

Across the rest of England and Wales there should also be some breaks in the cloud (away from the far west), so many of us should get to see the sunrise.

If you take any photos of the sunrise, make sure you send them in to us and we will then display them on our website.

TOP IMAGE: Sun behind Stonehenge in December 2008. Courtesy of Simon Wakefield via Wikimedia Commons

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