Winter solstice brings full moon, Mercury and Jupiter sightings

Winter officially arrives today marking the shortest amount of daylight that we will see for 2018. We'll also see two other unique events on this day.

The winter solstice has always been known as the shortest day of the year, and while that doesn't mean the day is actually shorter than 24 hours, it does mean that the actual length of daylight will be the shortest we see all year with only 9 hours and 10 minutes observed daylight.

This year we will also observe a full moon on the winter solstice, something that doesn't happen very often! The next time a full moon will also occur on the winter solstice won't be until the year 2094. So, for many of us, it will be the only such occasion.

In addition to the full moon, the planets Mercury and Jupiter will also be visible in the southeast sky. You'll want to look in that direction with a pair of binoculars, or a simple telescope around 6pm Friday evening. Both planets will like they are extremely close together. In reality, they remain hundreds of millions of miles apart. Still, a neat thing to see in the sky!

Once we get past Friday, the amount of daylight we observe will begin increasing slowly each day, surpassing the 10-hour quantity by February first.  Exponential growth will continue into March and April where we add more than two minutes of daylight each day heading into spring.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

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