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What is the winter solstice? Everything to know about the shortest day of the year

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Today marks the official midpoint of the year, known as the winter solstice.

Which means while the weather may not be necessarily be getting warmer, the days are going to last longer.

The winter solstice is the name for the shortest day of the year, which means every day from now on will have an earlier sunrise and later sunset.

READ MORE: Sydney treated to spectacular sunrise on Winter Solstice

We've answered the internet's questions about the winter solstice here.

What is the winter solstice?

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. 

It usually falls on June 20 or 21 in the southern hemisphere.

In the northern hemisphere, today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Last night was the longest night of the year, in that it was darker for longer than any other date.

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Researchers at the Casey Research Station in Antarctica mark the winter solstice with a swim.

Why do we have winter solstice?

Winter solstice is not a creation of humans, but rather a name humans gave to the reality of our Earth's situation.

As the Earth orbits around the sun, it tilts as it rotates, making summer and winter.

In summer in Australia, the southern hemisphere is tilted closer to the sun, and in winter, the southern hemisphere is tilted away.

The winter solstice is the moment the southern hemisphere is tilted furthest from the sun.

How long is the shortest day of the year?

It depends on where you live. The closer you are to the equator, the longer the day will be.

In Hobart today, the sun will go down at 4.43pm. People in Cairns get more than another hour, with a 5.52pm sunset.

Being further east also makes a difference with sunset times.

In Sydney, it's 4.54pm. In Melbourne, it's 5.08pm. In Adelaide, it's 5.12pm. In Perth, it's 5.20pm.

At the Casey Research Station in Antarctica, there's only about 2.5 hours of sunlight today.

Researchers there mark the winter solstice with a chilly dip in icy waters.

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The sun is only up for two and a half hours at the Casey Research Station during winter solstice.

Winter solstice weather?

Today is the shortest day of the year, but it isn't necessarily the coldest.

Sunlight and our distance from the sun is a major factor in temperatures, but it's not the only factor.

In Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart the temperatures should be colder at the end of the week.

That's in spite of several minutes more sunlight at the end of the day.

READ MORE: Cold front sweeps across country as Winter Solstice arrives



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