The shortest day of the year is the winter solstice, which occurs when the planet is tilted the farthest away from the sun. The solstice usually falls around December 22 for the Northern Hemisphere and June 22 for the Southern Hemisphere.
The next winter solstice is on December 22, 2011 and will occur at 5:30am Coordinated Universal Time. On this date, all locations above latitude 66.5 degrees north are in darkness and below 66.5 degrees south are in light. This is also when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn.
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