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    Google Doodle celebrates the Winter Solstice 2018, the shortest day of the year

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    While people across the world have already experienced bone-chilling temperatures, the official start of winter doesn't occur until Friday - the date of this year's winter solstice.

    Todays Google Doodle

    The annual winter solstice brings us the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Those living in the Southern Hemisphere will experience just the opposite. To mark this occasion, Google has come up with a unique doodle.

    The Winter Solstice doodle features an animated mouse ice skating above a mouse hole with what appears to be collected food for hibernation. The animation ends with the mouse rolling into the hole while covered in snow. Clicking the Google Doodle takes users to a search page for "Winter Solstice 2018."

    Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere all comes down to one moment in time when the sun reaches its northernmost point and the North Pole tilts directly toward the sun at about 23.4 degrees (but who's counting?).

    You may feel pressed for time these next few days, but not to fear - the days will only get longer as the Earth continues to orbit and the Southern Hemisphere gets closer to the Sun as it approaches the December summer solstice.

    So, what is the winter solstice?

    The world "solstice" comes from the Latin solstitium meaning "sun stands still" because the apparent movement of the sun's path north or south stops before changing direction.

    It is the shortest day of the year, having the least amount of daylight, and will generate the longest night.

    How long will it last?

    This astronomical event officially arrives Friday at 5:23 p.m. EST. At this time of year, each day is about 24 hours, 30 seconds long. It's because Earth is nearing its closest point to the sun in its elliptical orbit.

    How is it celebrated?

    The day has been celebrated by various cultures around the world for thousands of years and is generally a recognition of rebirth. Most notably it is associated with the druids who mark the start of the solar year with a celebration of light and the rebirth of the sun.

    Why winter solstice 2018 is unique?

    Another interesting thing about the 2018 winter solstice is the moon. The December's full moon, also known as the Full Cold Moon, will make an appearance the night of December 21 and December 22.

    While you're looking for the Full Cold Moon, also keep your eyes peeled for a meteor shower. According to NASA, the Ursid meteor shower will make an appearance on the nights of December 21 and 22. The best way to view the meteor show is to be a good distance away from city lights. NASA estimates a viewer will witness 5-10 shooting stars each hour.

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