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Daylight dwindling as winter solstice nears

Ben Domensino, Wednesday June 14, 2017 - 12:23 EST

The shortest day of the year is just around the corner.

There has been no shortage of winter sunshine across parts of Australia this month, thanks largely to a dominance of high pressure systems and a lack of strong cold fronts.

Wellington in New South Wales has averaged more than seven hours of sunshine per day so far this month, which is two more than usual at this time of year. Brisbane Airport's average of 8.4 sunshine hours during the first 12 days of June is also two above the norm. Adelaide Airport has seen close to three hours more sun than usual each day, averaging 7.5 hours to date for June.

Despite abundant sunshine in may areas so far this month, days have gradually been getting shorter. In fact, days have been losing length since the summer solstice back in late December, although this downhill run of daylight is about to end.

The winter solstice occurs on Wednesday next week, when the Earth's southern hemisphere reaches its furthest tilt away from the sun. This moment causes the sun to reach its most northerly point in our sky, producing the shortest day of the calendar year.

While the winter solstice is widely known to mark the year's shortest day in the southern hemisphere, there is a common misconception about how it works.

It would seem logical that the latest sunrise and earliest sunset happen on the winter solstice and cause the short day length. However, this isn't the case.

The latest sunrise and earliest sunset of the year in Australia actually occur a few days after and before the winter solstice, respectively. The earliest sunset for places in New South Wales occurred a few days ago and the latest sunrise will happen in a couple of week's time.

If you want to celebrate the winter solstice, have some party poppers ready to go at 2:24pm AEST next Wednesday.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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