Winter solstice begins Thursday morning with snow, frigid temps for many states

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At different times throughout the year, go to a favorite place where you can watch the sunrise or sunset. The winter solstice occurs Thursday at 11:28 a.m.

Image copyright ALAMY Image caption For the global north, the earth's tilt means that it gets maximum exposure to the sun in June and least in December Is the solstice at the same instant around the world? The winter solstice has been honored as a time of divine births for a long time: in Persia, Mithras was said to have been born at this time and in ancient Egypt the date marked the birth of Horus.

"We're actually closer to the sun this time of year (also a surprise to many people) and moving faster in our orbit, so the Earth has to turn a little extra to face the sun each day compared to other times of year", Schneider says.

Aphelion, or when the Earth is furthest from the Sun, occurs on July 4, just after the winter solstice.

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That's because it marks the point when the sun's seasonal movement stops for a day, before it reverses and the amount of sunlight starts to change again.

By the way, that same critter enjoying the winter season also takes refuge from the heat during the longest day of the year - wherever that may be.

The Earth's tilted axis causes the seasons.

In the pagan tradition, the Goddess gives birth to a son, the God, at Yule, which is around December 21.

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Is the solstice on the same day every year?

During the winter the Northern Hemisphere is pointed away from the Sun's direct rays. The good news is starting tomorrow the days will be getting longer.

In the Lower 48, the sun is up for more than 10 hours across Florida and southern Texas, while states across the northern tier get under nine hours of daylight.

Although the day symbolises the death of the old year, this is by no means a solemn occasion, with druids celebrating the renewal of life and rejoicing in a moment of seasonal rebirth.

You may have noticed the sun deeper toward the southern horizon through the fall.

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You would think our temperatures will be at the coldest on the Winter Equinox but the truth is that there is a lag time in the cold.