For us living in a desert country, we are used to seeing daylight for long stretches almost all year round.
Not today, though.
An astronomical phenomenon, popularly called winter solstice, is set to happen today, 22nd December, making daytime in most parts of the world, including the UAE, shorter than usual.
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By definition, winter solstice is that time in a year when the Earth’s axis is tilted as far from the sun as it will be all year.
This means that daytime – or at least that period when the sun is out doing its business – will be much shorter, while nighttime will be longer than usual.
In the UAE, sunrise is expected at 7pm and sunset at around 5pm.
To be clear, winter solstice happens every year usually around 21st and 22nd December.
It can also take place on 20th and 23rd of December although both dates are not that common.
The last time the event happened on the 23rd was in 1903 with the next one projected to occur in 2303. Meanwhile, the next winter solstice that will fall on the 20th December is in 2080.
This year’s winter solstice, however, coincides with a full moon and the Ursid meteor shower so don’t be surprise if you chance upon a bright meteor streaking over the evening sky tonight. It is expected that up to ten meteors will enter Earth’s atmosphere per hour.
If you’re wondering on how to fully experience these kinds of astronomical spectacles in all its glory, then check out Al Sadeem Astronomy in Al Wathba.
Here, guests can use the various telescopes positioned to gain a clear and amazing view of the universe. Visitors can also learn more about astronomy, how to set up a telescope and tour the facilities for truly out-of-this-world experience.
Take note that registration through the centre’s website at alsadeerastronomy.ae is required to make your visit official.
There’s also an AED 200 fee for adults and AED 50 for kids 15 to 18 years old. The venue is open Monday to Saturday from 7pm.