The shortest, darkest day of the year is nearly here…

Over the past few weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that winter had well and truly arrived in the UAE. Between the thunder and lightening, heavy rain and cooler temperatures, it’s been a few weeks of fairly unsettled weather in the city.

However the official start of winter actually occurs on winter solstice, which this year falls on Sunday December 22. To be precise, the winter solstice will begin at 8.19am in the UAE.

The winter solstice marks the first day of winter for the northern hemisphere and first day of summer for the southern hemisphere. Those of us in the northern hemisphere will experience the shortest, darkest day of the year, as the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun at an angle of -23.4 degrees.

While the winter solstice marks the start of the astronomical winter, meteorologists typically now recognise December 1 as the start of winter.

But the good news is that from Sunday onwards, the days will gradually begin to get longer again.

This December, the UAE will also witness a solar eclipse on December 26. Speaking to Gulf News, Sharjah based astronomer Ebrahim Al Jarwan said that, “This is the first time in 172 years that this type of eclipse will be seen in the UAE.”

Also known as a ring of fire because of the way the moon eclipses all but the edges of the sun, the solar eclipse will best be seen in Abu Dhabi’s Gharbia or Liwa regions. However, across the UAE a partial eclipse will be visible to varying degrees.

For best viewing if you do head to Liwa, it should be eyes to the skies at around 7.35am on December 26.

Image: Getty