Winter Solstice 2012: Facts on the Shortest Day of the Year
Why winter—and not a Maya apocalypse—starts today.
Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It's all due to Earth's tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.
Some predicted that today would also mark Earth's doomsday, thanks to a longstanding rumor that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012. But earlier this year, National Geographic grantee William Saturno found evidence that the Maya calculated dates thousands of years past 2012.
"We keep looking for endings," Saturno said in a statement. "The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset."
(Read more about the Maya apocalypse myth.)
Even without an apocalypse, the solstice has been an auspicious