The longest night of the year takes place Friday December 21, 2018. The winter solstice is when the Earth’s axis tilts the Northern Hemisphere farthest from the sun’s warmth. This winter solstice coincides with the December full moon, named the Cold Moon, and will be visible in the night sky along with the Ursid meteor shower.

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year due to the sun appearing in its most southerly position. Early in human history monuments were built to track the sun's movement throughout the year. For example, Stonehenge. At sunrise at Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, the rising sun appears behind one of the main stones, creating the illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone. Friday at 5:23 p.m. EST will mark the official arrival of winter solstice.

Ursids meteor shower will peak just before dawn. The shower gets its name because its meteors appear to emanate from Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper. Due to the full moon, it may be harder to spot.

One other anomaly is the positions of Mercury and Jupiter appearing as though they may collide. The planets will actually be hundreds of millions of miles away. The best viewing time will be when dawn nears.

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