Today is the shortest day of the year in London, so I’m posting my shiniest, brightest photos. Here’s a golden bauble from the tree at the Grosvenor House Hotel to act as a substitute for the sun.
The North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun today, giving the people of the northern hemisphere the fewest hours of sunlight. Until this year I thought that the shortest day of the year was always 21st December. More often than not, that is true, but it can actually be on 20th, 21st, 22nd or 23rd, because the modern calendar does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days. This year it falls on 22nd December.
Back to Grosvenor House, and its golden balls, stacked up outside the hotel on Park Lane. You can just about see the trees of Hyde Park in the reflections.
The shortest day of the year is known as the winter solstice, from the Latin word “solstitium”, meaning “Sun standing still”. Tomorrow, days will start to get longer, leading up to the summer solstice in June. But the days don’t lengthen in a straightforward way. You may notice that the earliest sunsets come in the first half of December. And we have to put up with later sunrises for a few weeks after the winter solstice, with the sun rising latest in early January.
Round the corner from the Grosvenor House, on Mount Street, the Dior shop has even more baubles in their window. This time the reflections only show the buildings on the other side of the street (and they don’t even catch the Damien Hirst tree at the Connaught).
I hope this blog is cheering you up in the dark days of winter. But if you need more sunlight, why not take off on a flight to the southern hemisphere, where they are enjoying the longest day of the year?
This tree, in Terminal 5 of Heathrow, is one of many identical trees in the airport.
I got my information about the winter solstice from an article in the Daily Telegraph.