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DECEMBER 21, 2010

23.5 degrees

Illustration of earth's tilt in relation to sunTonight is the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. It's the moment when the earth's axis is titled farthest away from the sun, 23.5 degrees.

Here in Cleveland that event occurred at 6:38 pm. The result: we had a bit more than nine hours of light versus nearly fifteen of darkness.

Could be worse: above the Arctic Circle—as you can see in this illustration—they don't get any sun at all!

The good news is that from now until June 21 each day will get longer and longer.

You can get a sense of what's happening on our homepage. The height of the image for the day has been gradually shrinking throughout the month, showing the hours of daylight. December 1 is 188 pixels high (9.4 hours) and today's is 183 (9.2 hours). As June 21 approaches they will get taller and taller, peaking at 303 pixels (15.2 hours).

If you haven't already figured this out, the color of each day's block shows the temperature for the day. Today's purple shows a temperature in the 20s. You can find more fun facts about why this site looks the way is does on our About page.

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