The planets align for a stellar celebration — the days are getting longer!

Today marks the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere, and here in the Netherlands, we have something exciting in store: one whole extra minute of daylight tomorrow. And we’re not the only one’s excited about it — a couple of planets are even getting together to celebrate.

It’s winterzonnewende, as they say in Dutch, the shortest day and longest night of the year, and the first official day of winter. From our latitudinal location in the Netherlands, this means an entire 60 seconds will be added onto our day on Tuesday, leaving us with a whopping 7.5 hours of sunlight.

But brace yourselves, there’s more:

The midnight merger

This year, mother nature has a very special trick up her sleeve to ring in the new season. The 2020 winter solstice will be highlighted by a galactic phenomenon not seen in 800 years: a “Great Conjunction”, also referred to in headlines as a planetary “poinsettia”, “Christmas star”, and a “cosmic kiss”. It’s essentially Jupiter and Saturn coming close enough to form one luminous dot in the sky, appearing to have one celestial body.

The planets will shine brightest an hour after sunset from our perspective in the Netherlands. At that time, the distance between the two planets will be just 0.1 degrees.

The bright orb can be seen with the naked eye if the sky is clear, which is not looking optimistic, unfortunately. But hey, if not this year, we’ll have another chance to see it in 2080.

Winter weather

On the weather front, things are also a bit anticlimactic for the days up to and including Christmas. Clouds and rain are expected to grace the Netherlands in typical winter fashion — on and off, indefinitely.

The mild temperatures we’ve been feeling lately will drop a bit lower as we inch toward Christmas, with single digits expected around the 25th.

What will you do with your extra minute of sunlight tomorrow? Tell us your plans in the comments below!

Feature Image: flflflfl/Pixabay

Brin Andrews
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.


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