December 21 is the first day of winter and the shortest day of 2016

December 21 marks the official start of winter, and it’s also the winter solstice — the shortest day and longest night of the year.

The science behind it is relatively simple. As Vox explains, the Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis. So between September and March, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets less exposure to the sun. In contrast, the longest day and shortest night of the year generally happens on June 20, 21, or 22.

In Hampton Roads, we’ll see about 9.5 hours of daylight and about 14.5 hours of darkness. The sun rises at 7:15 a.m. and will set at 4:53 p.m.

Those living close to the Arctic Circle will only see about three short hours of daylight.

After Wednesday, the days will progressively start getting longer! So, while winter has just begun… spring is just around the corner!