Once the sun sets this Sunday, Dec. 21, the year's longest night and the winter season will officially begin.
This is known as the winter (or December) solstice, and is marked by Earth's Northern Hemisphere being the farthest from the sun in its yearly rotation. Currently, the Southern Hemisphere is the closest to the sun, meaning countries like Australia are beginning summer.
The sun will stand still at its lowest point for a few moments this evening, according to the National Post. Time magazine reports the exact moment of the solstice will occur at 6:03 p.m. ET this year.
But this isn't just the longest night of 2014, it's the longest night ever, according to Vox. Each year, the length of winter solstice's night increases by 15 to 25 millionths of a second. While the growth is so minimal the average person would never notice, it technically amounts to a longer night.
Regardless of whether you plan to stop and observe the solstice, there are plenty of ways to enjoy tonight's prolonged darkness. A candlelit dinner, perhaps?
At the very least, you can enjoy tonight’s extra-special sunset.
Social media users around the world shared photos of stunning sunsets as night fell in their countries, using the hashtags #shortestday and #wintersolstice.
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