December solstice occurred in 2018 at 22:23 UTC on 21 December and could be 'seen' in satellite imagery.
21 December 2020
21 December 2018
By Vesa Nietosvaara and José Prieto (EUMETSAT)
An astronomical event marking the maximum inclination of the north-south Earth axis and the solar rays, the December solstice has no impact on weather other than announcing the start of longer days in the northern hemisphere (shorter in the southern). As a consequence, there is higher solar illumination and more heating on the Earth's surface in the northern hemisphere.
Satellite solar images from geostationary satellites show sunglint areas close to the polar circle around the time of the lowest sun, as seen in the animation from HRV channel of Meteosat-11 at 0 degrees (Figure 1).
The first strong sunglint shows on the western side of the image at 20:45 UTC, then it moves eastwards (the sun being on the other side of Earth) to the ocean-free area east of Argentina.
Sunglint appears as an artificial bright artifact for three/four consecutives time slots, not to be confused with cloud.
GOES-16, at 75 °W, picks up different areas of strong direct reflection from the sun during the low-sun period of the day.
On Figure 2, the sunglint area shifts at roughly 2000 km/h. We see a sudden glare at 04:30 UTC on the more liquid and flat parts of the ocean in the Antarctic peninsula.
Also, Sentinel-3, through its OLCI instrument at 300 m resolution, shows Antarctic areas in 24 hour solar illumination. In Figure 3, some shades indicate the presence of high ice slopes, for instance under the North arrow. Drifting ice combines icy and liquid parts in the sea in the northern part of the image.
Other solstice cases
Cancer solstice 2020
The Cancer solstice, with the Sun directly over the Tropic of Cancer, took place in 2020 on 20 June at 21:43 UTC.
Annular solar eclipse on solstice
During the 2020 June solstice the shadow of the Moon, travelling from west to east, appeared in the images of three geostationary satellites.
June solstice 2019
The June solstice is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It took place at 15:54 UTC on 21 June.
Winter solstice 2017
As precisely forecast, the northern hemisphere winter solstice (summer solstice in the southern) started on 21 December at 16:27 UTC.
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