Finland marks winter solstice, longer days on the horizon

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This year's solstice: The 2018 winter solstice will be rather unique since a full moon occurs the day after.

It's the middle of winter today, and from now on, the days get a little bit longer as we continue our trip around the sun. Starting Saturday, daylight will gradually extend each day until the summer solstice in June.

The word "solstice" is derived from the Latin term, solstitium, which means "the sun stands still".

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Today might feel like a long day, with America waiting to see if a shutdown comes to pass at midnight. Delhi saw 10 hours and 19 minutes of the sun that same winter solstice.

The first day of winter, Friday, Dec. 21, will not be your typical winter solstice. Our rotation axis may remain 23.5-degrees away from the sun, but we'll have a very special moon to keep us company this weekend!

Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. We will also see our final meteor shower of the year.

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Why it matters: According to Earth Sky, the day represents the longest night and shortest day of the year, according to EarthSky.org.

The solstices and the equinoxes mark the four-yearly astronomical turning points as the earth makes it way around the sun.

In December, the Earth's North Pole turns away from the Sun, giving the Southern Hemisphere the most sunlight. The full moon will happen December 22 around 12:49 p.m. This is the shortest day of the year, too - but with the moon this full, we've got plenty of reason to stay out howling.

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In Maine, much smaller winter solstice celebrations take place around the state, such as Harpswell Heritage Land Trust's Winter Solstice Lantern Walk, the Maine Audubon Winter Solstice Celebration with Spirit Passages at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, and the Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church Winter Solstice event.

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