December 21st: The Day the Sun Never Rose
Arctic Sunrise
Credit: Jessica Robertson, USGS


The world didn't end on December 21st.  (In fact, that was the 7th failed prediction of the end of the world in the last two years.)

But what DID happen?

It was The Day the Sun Never Rose.  It was also The Day the Sun Never Set. 

December 21st was the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere.  That's the day when Earth's north pole was pointed completely away from the Sun. 

If you lived north of the Arctic Circle, like Santa Claus, you would have experienced 24 hours of darkness.  It was the day Sun never rose.

However, if you lived south of the Antarctic Circle, like many penguins, you would have experienced 24 hours of daylight. It was the day the Sun never set.

Earth lighting on the winter solstice
Image of Earth on December 21st.

Image by Przemyslaw "Blueshade" Idzkiewicz.

Imagine this image of Earth turning on its axis.  Everything north of the Arctic Circle stays in the darkness of Earth's shadow and doesn't see sunlight. Everything south of the Antarctic Circle stays in the sunlight and never sees darkness.

Where did the Sun appear from your place on the globe?

stargazing at nightSo celebrate the changing of the seasons, and bundle up to enjoy the long nights of winter stargazing. 

For the next six months, the nights will be getting shorter for us in the northern hemisphere and longer for those in the southern hemisphere.

(Photo Credit: Adirondack Public Observatory)

Experience the joys of learning about our Earth and sky

Join our vibrant stargazing community!

We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network stargazing community on Facebook and Twitter for sky charts, beautiful images, and lively conversation. 

Find star parties held by astronomy clubs in your area quickly using these apps or use the website!

Go StarGaze, the NASA Night Sky Network astronomy app, developed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, helps you find astronomy clubs and their stargazing events on the go!

Distant Suns, your personal guide to the cosmos, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the main navigation bar. Distant Suns is available on iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and NOOK.

SkySafari, a powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the help menu. SkySafari is available for Android and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Clear skies and happy stargazing!

The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in cooperation with NASA