National Weather Service

Winter Solstice 2021: What to Know About the First Day of Winter, Shortest Day of Year Tuesday

During the December solstice, the sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky - no matter where on Earth you happen to be, according to NASA

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Winter has officially arrived in Chicago.

Tuesday marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when it comes to combined sunlight and the official beginning of the winter season.

Here's what to know:

How much sunlight will Chicago see Tuesday?

In Chicago, residents will see just under nine hours and 11 minutes of sunlight, with the sun rising just after 7:13 a.m. and setting just after 4:24 p.m. Central Standard Time.

What happens during the winter solstice?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice - when the North Pole has tilted the farthest away from the sun - occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

When the solstice occurs, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky - no matter where on Earth you happen to be, according to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Where can you catch the solstice sun in Chicago?

Chicago officials have created a specific spot to view the sun on the city's shortest day of the year.

The Exelon Observatory holds a steel, notched blade, located along the west end of the 606 trail, visually frames the sunsets on the winter solstice.

How long will the day last?

But the length of the day varies depending on one's latitude.

The farther north you are, the shorter the day is, because the sun rises later and sets earlier, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For locations at similar latitudes, sunrise and sunset times will vary by longitude.

Unlike the northern half of the globe, the southern portion will experience its longest day and shortest night during the winter solstice, NASA stated.

Days will be shorter than 12 hours in the northern portion, while all southern locations will see days longer than 12 hours.

Following Tuesday, sunrises will occur later in the day, but sunsets will also continue to occur later at a faster rate, helping the Chicago area make up for lost daylight in the morning.

Will Tuesday also be the earliest sunset of the year?

No, while the winter solstice is notably the shortest day of the year, the earliest sunset of 2021 has already taken place.

The earliest sunset of the year in Chicago occurred on Dec. 8, according to multiple websites, including Sunrise-Sunset and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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