Today is the winter solstice in Iceland…and all over the Northern Hemisphere

The winter solstice this year falls today, the 22nd December, according to the University of Iceland Almanac. Read on for some interesting facts.

The precise time of the sun’s low point is right now (this article is published at 05.30 GMT) and it is all uphill to summer from now on.

In Reykjavík today, the shortest day of the year, it will start getting light at 10.03 and will be dark again by 16.49. Sunrise is at 11.22 and sunset at 15.30.

One of the University of Iceland Almanac editors, Þorsteinn Sæmundsson, told Ví that the date of the solstice changes with the centuries and can be on the 20th, 21st, 22nd or 23rd December. It is mostly the progression of leap years which makes the date move around. The most common date in the 21st Century is the 21st December (in fact many people assume it is a set date on the 21st December every year). But last century the most common date for the solstice was the 22nd December, Þorsteinn says.

The significance of the winter solstice is that from tomorrow the days will get longer and longer until the summer solstice — although only very slightly longer in the first few days and more rapidly after that. On Christmas Eve (Saturday) the hours of daylight in Reykjavík will be three minutes longer than today. A month later the city will be enjoying an hour-and-a-half’s extra light every day.

In Akureyri today the sunrise will be at 11.38 and sunset at 14.44; while in Norðurfjörður those times are 11.08 and 14.38. But the shortest day is on Grímsey island – the only part of Iceland to cross the Arctic Circle — where sunrise will be at 12.03 and sunset at 14.18, according to the University of Iceland Almanac.

Iceland’s year-round adherence to GMT London time means its daylight hours are skewed towards the evening by about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. In the summer, the constant daylight means the difference is unnoticeable.