Winter Solstice: Google doodle celebrates shortest day of the year

Winter trifecta: Solstice, full moon, meteor shower on Friday, Saturday

That's because it's winter solstice, a day on which most of the USA clocks fewer than 10 hours of daylight, reports the Washington Post.

That's the Doodle on search engine Google's page on Winter Solstice day.

Friday also marks the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere when it will pass through its longest night of the year.

In the southern hemisphere it's exactly the opposite story - the South Pole is pointing towards the Sun, making it summertime "down-under". The Sun will be directly above the Tropic of Capricorn at noon, marking the longest day in the southern hemisphere.

This year's solstice is special as it will be followed the next day by the year's last full moon, called the Cold Moon, and the Ursid meteor shower.

The full moon will actually occur on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 12:49 p.m., according to Space.com, but it will appear full both Friday night and Saturday night to the casual stargazer. The best viewing with most meteor showers happens in the hours prior to sunrise (midnight to 5 a.m.) and under a dark sky.

Winter trifecta: Solstice, full moon, meteor shower on Friday, Saturday

The American Meteor Society says at the peak, there should be about 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before dawn.

The occasion is a cause for celebration in some regions around the world. Crowds selected by lottery wait for a chance to see the sunrise light up the ancient passage tomb.

In the astronomical calendar, the start and end dates are based on the changing position of the Earth in relation to the sun and the resulting solar events of equinoxes and solstice.

At the Stonehenge in United Kingdom, people come together to capture the moment when the sun aligns with the rocks at sunrise and sunset.

The festive food is said to bring prosperity and unity among families.

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