December Solstice from Space

December 23, 2019


Image Provider: NOAA Geostationary Satellite Server
Summary Author: Jim Foster

The image above was acquired from the Meteosat satellite on December 20, 2019, at 0600 UTC. Meteosat is positioned over the equator, orbiting the Earth once per day, at an altitude of 35,800 km (22,246 miles).

The full disk, visible image featured here is centered over the 0-degree longitude meridian (Prime Meridian) and shows the terminator near the time of the December solstice. Note that the exact time of the solstice was 04:19 UTC on December 22. It’s morning in southern Africa and Madagascar, which are bathed in sunlight, but it’s still nighttime in far northern Africa and Europe. The further north one travels, the later dawn will arrive. However, north of approximately 66.5 degrees north latitude (Arctic Circle), it’ll be dark all day at the time of the solstice (polar night); while south of 66.5 degrees south latitude (Antarctic Circle), it’s the time of the midnight sun – 24 hours of sunlight.