Winter Solstice Sun
December 29, 2003
When one stands in the center of the plaza at Sylvan Rodriguez Park in Houston, TX, split stones mark the southernmost point of sunrise for the year. This event marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter, which occured on December 22 this year. Though the days are now getting longer, the sun continues to rise a bit later each morning until January 5 (see the Earth Picture of the Day for December 26, 2001) due to the interaction of the tilt of the axis and the eccentricity of the orbit of Earth, as described by the equation of time.
The vertical lavendar pillar in the photo is an artifact of the camera caused by imaging the intense light of the sun.