Those eyes!

Now to the wolf’s eyes!

I have written quite a few times about the eyes of dogs but never the wolf.

This was sent to me by Julie Thomas-Smith, the wife of my best friend, Richard Maugham, and it is just beautiful.

It comes from the Wolf Conservation Center and when one goes across to that website then one reads:

A wolf’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. Did you know that wolves possess certain ocular characteristics that allow them to communicate with other members of their species using their eyes alone? One can guess that this gives a new meaning to the common phrase “puppy-dog eyes!”

Enjoy your weekend.

A truly wonderful woman

I shall never tire of sharing these sorts of stories!

In the last hours of 2019 Margaret Krupinski sent us a story about this amazing woman and how she loved all the dogs in her care.

It’s a real pleasure to reproduce that article here.

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(SWNS)

Woman Dubbed ‘Miracle Worker’ for Helping Paralyzed, Injured Dogs Walk Again

By SWNS
December 30, 2019

A woman who cares for sick and disabled pooches from around the world has been dubbed a “miracle worker” after getting many of them back on their feet again.

Claire-Louise Nixon, 48, is a dog lover and shares her modest home with 27 canines that no one else wants.

Claire walking with 8 out of the 27 dogs that she has helped to walk again. (©SWNS)
Claire-Louise Nixon, 51 out walking 8 of her 27 dogs that she has helped to walk again. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

Many of them are street dogs that have been abused or have lost limbs from mines and explosives in former war zones. But regardless of what conditions the dogs arrive in, Claire is determined to get them walking again through intense physio sessions and walks on wheels.

Her motley crew of dogs all live in her four-bedroom, semi-detached house in Milton Keynes with her husband, Gary, 50 and daughter, Rhia-Louise, 22. While Claire’s initial plan is usually to find forever homes for the dogs, quite often, their needs are too complex, with some even having to wear nappies.

The home of Clarie-Lousie Nixon who has 27 dogs living in the house. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.
Some of the 27 dogs that Clarie-Lousie Nixon has living at her home. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

She said: “When I get these dogs who are in such a bad way, the vet would say: ‘Claire, you won’t get them walking again.’

“But now they say nothing is impossible! They say we work miracles with them!

“I think all they need is love, kindness and patience. When they walk into my house they see other dogs like them so they don’t feel any different that’s why I think they do so well here.

“If you give them a reason to walk again then they will.”

Rita Ora Collie from Romania who was abandoned on the roadside after beeing born deformed and was sent to Claire-Lousie Nixon as no one wanted her. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs:Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.
Forest Gump a small collie crossed pomeranian who was run over on an Army base in Romania. Men on the base found Clarie-Lousie Nixon on facebook and sent Forest Gump to her for treatment. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

Claire, who looks after the brood of canines—seven of which are paralyzed—says it’s a full-time job and takes her from 6 a.m. until midnight. Feeding them alone is a mammoth chore involving 15 kilograms (approx. 33 pounds) of biscuits and a complete crate of dog food every single day.

Eight of the dogs have to wear nappies, with little bodysuits to keep them in place, and they all need daily baths to keep them clean and infection-free. There’s a lot of cleaning up involved, and Claire is constantly trying to keep on top of the housework.

Feeding time at The home of Clarie-Lousie Nixon who has 27 dogs living in the house. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

Claire’s passion to care for sick dogs all started 12 years ago when a puppy named Thomas Cook, who was only a few days old, was brought to the vets to be put down. The puppy had a hair lip and cleft palate, which prevented him from suckling milk and feeding, but Claire was determined to save him.

Claire painstakingly hand-reared Thomas Cook by feeding him a bottle every few hours, and from there, it escalated to having 27 disabled and sick dogs.

She said: “It went into having paralyzed dogs and dogs that had their legs blown off in Bosnia and dogs that had been shot and still had bullets inside them.”

All of Claire’s dogs are named after celebrities that she feels describe their personalities.

Sir Elton John, who Nixon named because of the song “I’m still standing,” was rescued from Romania after he was run over and left on the road to die. This left him with a broken spine. However, with Claire’s help, he can now go on small walks.

Sir Elton John, a Jack Russell cross who Clarie-Lousie Nixon has helped to walk again. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

Sherlock Holmes, who was rightly named for his intelligence and curiosity, was a street dog in Oman who was shot by a security guard.

The other dogs to name a few are Patrick Swayze, who twitches all the time and was previously paralyzed, Freddie Mercury, who wanted to “break free,” and David Bowie, who was “under pressure.”

Claire said: “They’re part of the family. The dogs have a free run of the house.

“They sit where they want and they sleep wherever they happen to fall asleep—often on our beds.

“The dogs arrive with the most horrible past we give them love and [a] wonderful future. They come from all over the world but with me they are home forever.”

Doris Day the pomeranian cross who Claire-Louise Nixon is helping to walk again. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.
Rylan Clark- neal theJack Russell cross Shih tzu who Claire-Louise Nixon helped to walk again. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

She further added: “I’m really lucky in that all the neighbors have dogs themselves so we don’t get complaints. And although 27 dogs sounds a lot, they are really quite well behaved.”

Claire raises funds through her organization, Wheels to Paws UK, to provide them with medical treatment, rehabilitation, and the equipment they need to walk again. Vets bills can be a huge drain on resources, but local vets are sympathetic to her cause and often offer a discount.

For long walks, the dogs are put in specially made harnesses with wheels to act as false legs so they can enjoy going out for walks. Meanwhile, those that can’t walk are put in buggies.

Other dogs are regularly taken for doggy hydrotherapy, while all those that can walk are taken out for exercise in rotation.

Claire-Louise Nixon, 51 out walking 8 of her 27 dogs that she has helped to walk again. See Cambridge copy SWCAdogs: Dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon has told how she shares her semi-detached house with her family – and a staggering 27 rescued pooches.Claire-Louise, 48, rescues sick and paralysed dogs from around the world and looks after them at her humble home in Milton Keynes, Bucks.She says looking after the brood of canines is a full-time job and takes her from 6am until midnight.

Claire said: “The dog rescue charities abroad all know of me. So if they get a badly injured or disabled dog in need of specialist care they will pay to transport them to me in the UK. I can never say no.”

She further added: “It is tremendous hard work but I can’t tell you how rewarding it is. The love these dogs give back is amazing. I would not be without any single one of them.”

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There are some people around who do so much more than can be expected and Claire is very much one of those people.

To be impressed with her is only just the half of it.

Thank you Margaret for bringing this wonderful story to all our attentions.

A New Start!

This has nothing to do with dogs.

Well not in a direct manner.

But all dog owners know that the odds of anxiety or depression if you have a dog or two around one are greatly reduced.

I’m chairing a discussion on depression at our local Humanists and Freethinkers group in eighteen days time; on January 18th, 2020. The core of my talk is a TED Talk given journalist Johann Hari in July of 2019.

This is how the talk is introduced.

In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world — as well as some exciting emerging solutions. “If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re not weak and you’re not crazy — you’re a human being with unmet needs,” Hari says.

There are sufficient numbers of people who follow this blog that it is likely that this talk will really engage a few of you. It’s twenty minutes long and very interesting!

I hope you find it engaging!

A Very Happy New Year to you!

Can dogs count?

The answer may surprise you!

Dogs use a part of their brain for processing numbers. But more than that, dogs use a similar brain region to process numbers as we humans do.

I found that fascinating.

This was one the results of reading a very interesting article published by The Smithsonian magazine earlier on in December.

Let me share it with you.

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Dogs’ Brains Naturally Process Numbers, Just Like Ours

Scientists stuck 11 dogs in fMRI scanners to see if their brains had a knack for quantity

How many sheep? (Arbutus Photography / flickr)

Katherine J. Wu,   smithsonianmag.com
Dec. 19, 2019,

Sit. Stay. Fetch. Count?

Sort of. A team of scientists has found that dogs naturally process numbers in a similar brain region as humans, reports Virginia Morell for Science. While that doesn’t mean mutts can do math, it seems they have an innate sense of quantity, and may take notice when you put fewer treats in their bowl, according to a study published this week in Biology Letters.

Importantly, while other research has delved into similar stunts that scientists coaxed out of canines by rewarding them with treats, the new study suggests a knack for numbers is present in even untrained dogs—and could have deep evolutionary roots. This supports the idea that the ways in which animals process quantity in their brains may be “ancient and widespread among species,” Michael Beran, a psychologist at Georgia State University who wasn’t involved in the research, tells Morell.

To test pooches’ numerical prowess, a team led by Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, scanned the brains of 11 dogs of different breeds as they gazed at screens serially flashing different numbers of variably-sized dots. As the images flipped rapidly past, the researchers looked for activity in a region of the canine brain called the parietotemporal cortex, analogous to humans’ parietal cortex, which is known to help people rapidly process numbers. In humans, this region lights up on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner when numbers start to vary—a sign that cells are working hard to puzzle through the difference.

Something similar seems to apply to canines, the team found. When dogs hopped into the scanner, most of their parietotemporal cortices showed more activity when the numbers of dots flashed onto the screen changed (for instance, three small dots followed by ten big dots) than when they stayed the same (four small dots followed by four large dots).

The behavior wasn’t universal: 3 out of the researchers’ 11 test subjects failed to discern the difference. But it’s not surprising that the rest did, Krista Macpherson, a canine cognition researcher at Western University in Canada who wasn’t involved in the study, tells Morell.

Of course, approximating quantities of dots isn’t the same as solving complex mathematical equations, as our brains are equipped to do. But both behaviors stem from an inherent sense for numbers—something that appears to span the 80-million-year evolutionary gap between dogs and humans, the findings suggest.

Understanding how that basic ability might evolve into “higher” mathematical skills is a clear next step, study author Lauren Aulet, a psychologist at Emory University, says in a statement. Until then, we humans can count on the fact that we have plenty in common with our canine companions.

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An inherent sense for numbers. Wow!

This is yet another aspect of the relationship we have with our pooches that is deeper and closer than I imagined, and I’m sure I don’t only speak for myself.

The early beginnings.

Science has maybe found a clue to the ancestor of the dog and the wolf.

For an animal that means so much to us humans, the origins of the dog are still uncertain. Indeed, as this interesting article shows, the origins of the wolf are uncertain.

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Was This 18,000-Year-Old Puppy Frozen in Siberian Permafrost the Ancestor of Wolves, Dogs or Both?

DNA tests on the well-preserved remains can’t determine whether the little canine was wild or domestic

(Sergey Fedorov/NEFU)

By Jason Daley, smithsonianmag.com
Dec. 3, 2019, 10 a.m.”>December 3, 2019

Meet Dogor, an 18,000-year-old pup unearthed in Siberian permafrost whose name means “friend” in the Yakut language. The remains of the prehistoric pup are puzzling researchers because genetic testing shows it’s not a wolf or a dog, meaning it could be an elusive ancestor of both.

Locals found the remains in the summer of 2018 in a frozen lump of ground near the Indigirka River, according to the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. Parts of the animal are incredibly well-preserved, including its head, nose, whiskers, eyelashes and mouth, revealing that it still had its milk teeth when it died. Researchers suggest the animal was just two months old when it passed, though they do not know the cause of death.

The pup is so well-preserved that researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Sweden were able to sequence the animal’s DNA using a piece of rib bone. The results found that Dogor was male, but even after two rounds of analysis the team could not determine whether he was a dog or a wolf.

“It’s normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two,” David Stanton, a Centre for Palaeogenetics research fellow, tells Amy Woodyatt at CNN. “We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you’d expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can’t might suggest that it’s from a population that was ancestral to both—to dogs and wolves.”

The find is exciting, regardless of whether Dogor turns out to be a common canine ancestor, an early dog, or an early wolf. Hannah Knowles at The Washington Post reports that Dogor comes from an interesting time in canine evolution, when wolf species were dying out and early dogs were beginning to emerge.

“As you go back in time, as you get closer to the point that dogs and wolves converge, [it becomes] harder to tell between the two,” Stanton tells Knowles.

(Sergey Fedorov/NEFU)

The history of just how and when dogs split from wolves is unresolved. There’s a general agreement among scientists that modern gray wolves and dogs split from a common ancestor 15,000 to 40,000 years ago, explains Brian Handwerk previously for Smithsonian.com. How dogs became dogs, however, is contested. Some research suggests that dogs were domesticated by humans once, while other studies have found dogs were domesticated multiple times. Exactly where in the world wild canines became man’s best friend is also disputed. The origin of the human-animal bond has been traced to Mongolia, China and Europe.

Scientists disagree about how dogs ended up paired with people, too. Some suspect humans captured wolf pups and actively domesticated them. Others suggest that a strain of “friendly,” less aggressive wolves more or less domesticated themselves by hanging out near humans, gaining access to their leftover food.

Dorgor’s DNA could help unravel these mysteries. The team plans to do a third round of DNA testing that may help definitively place Dogor in the canine family tree, report Daria Litvinova and Roman Kutuko at the Associated Press.

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This is incredibly interesting, don’t you think?

Hopefully I will hear of that third round of DNA testing and, if so, will most definitely share it with you.

A most beautiful animal

From a discussion on Ugly Hedgehog

As regular readers know, I subscribe to Ugly Hedgehog, a photography forum.

Once again, I want to share with you all a most stunning photograph.

It is this:

So what animal is it?

Back to that item on Ugly Hedgehog:

Whistletown Wilds, the author of the post, said:

Good boy! Call it what you will; Coydog, Eastern Coyote, or Coymolf. Up close and personal, Taken in East Lyme Ct.

Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Javier Monzón analyzed the DNA of eastern coyotes and found the genes contain all three canids — dog, wolf, and coyote.

According to Monzón’s research, about 64% of the eastern coyote’s genome is coyote (Canis latrans), 13% gray wolf (Canis lupus), 13% Eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and 10% dog (Canis familiaris).

Later on he added:

All my bird and nature photos are taken in South Eastern Ct. most with a Canon 7D Mark II or 5D Mark IV and Canon 100 to 400II THANK YOU. About 20 yards.

Then followed in response to my request for permission to republish:

Feel free, no problem!

Whatever happens to me in the next year, I truly hope I can continue to share such incredibly photographs with you.

Nature in all her glory!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I will be taking a short break, probably back on December 27th.

You all have a wonderful, peaceful holiday.

A treat!

A brilliant photograph!

On Saturday, our local pet food store, Lulu’s, held a free photography session. In that if we went along between noon and 4pm we could have our photographs taken of our dogs. I took my Nikon not really being sure if I could use it. We took Brandy and Pedy.

But Maria, the co-owner of the business together with her husband Rob, at one stage took my Nikon, I had set it to ‘auto’ rather than the usual RAW, and ran off some pictures.

Here’s one:

Enjoy!

Picture Parade Three Hundred and Nineteen

A wonderful set of photographs for the new year!

These were taken by my son, posted on Facebook and with his permission reproduced here.

A Kingfisher!

Taken at the Moat, at Bishop’s Palace, Wells, U.K.

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From the Royal Society of Protection for Birds (RSPB) website:

Kingfishers have stout bodies, very short tails, short, rounded wings, large heads and long, dagger-like bills.

Their feet are very small, with the two outer toes partly fused together. They nest in holes tunnelled into earth banks. There is only one UK species, but many more worldwide, most of which are dry-land birds rather than waterside ones like the UK kingfisher.

Beautiful!

It’s a New Year!

Well we have passed the Solstice!

Each year I try and promote the fact that we are in a New Year.

This year’s December Solstice took place at the moment this post was published: 20:19 PST .

Or in the words of EarthSky.org:

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All you need to know: December solstice

Posted by in | December 15, 2019

December solstice 2019 arrives on December 22 at 4:19 UTC.

That’s December 21 for much of North America. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!

Ian Hennes in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, created this solargraph between a June solstice and a December solstice. It shows the path of the sun during that time period.

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (That’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time).

No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate.

When is the solstice? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2019, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST. That’s on December 22 at 04:19 Universal Time (UTC). It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.

Just remember: you’re translating from 04:19 UT on December 22. For example, if you live in Perth, Australia, you need to add 8 hours to Universal Time to find out that the solstice happens on Sunday, December 22, at 12:19 p.m. AWST (Australian Western Standard Time).

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2019 solstice (December 22, 2019, at 04:19 UTC). Image via EarthView.

What is a solstice? The earliest people on Earth knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments such as Stonehenge in England – or, for example, at Machu Picchu in Peru – to follow the sun’s yearly progress.

But we today see the solstice differently. We can picture it from the vantage point of space. Today, we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.

At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the North Pole horizon. As seen from 23 1/2 degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets. All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.

For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.

Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun. Image via NASA.

Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere.

For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of all light and warmth on Earth.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can notice the late dawns and early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon. And be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s opposite. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high. It’s your shortest noontime shadow of the year.

Around the time of the winter solstice, watch for late dawns, early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Notice your noontime shadow, the longest of the year. Photo via Serge Arsenie on Flickr.
Meanwhile, at the summer solstice, noontime shadows are short. Photo via the Slam Summer Beach Volleyball festival in Australia.

Why doesn’t the earliest sunset come on the shortest day? The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. But the earliest sunset – or earliest sunrise if you’re south of the equator – happens before the December solstice. Many people notice this, and ask about it.

The key to understanding the earliest sunset is not to focus on the time of sunset or sunrise. The key is to focus on what is called true solar noon – the time of day that the sun reaches its highest point in its journey across your sky.

In early December, true solar noon comes nearly 10 minutes earlier by the clock than it does at the solstice around December 22. With true noon coming later on the solstice, so will the sunrise and sunset times.

It’s this discrepancy between clock time and sun time that causes the Northern Hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the Southern Hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice.

The discrepancy occurs primarily because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A secondary but another contributing factor to this discrepancy between clock noon and sun noon comes from the Earth’s elliptical – oblong – orbit around the sun. The Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we’re closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit. Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes in early January. So we are moving fastest in orbit around now, slightly faster than our average speed of about 18.5 miles per second (30 kilometers per second). The discrepancy between sun time and clock time is greater around the December solstice than the June solstice because we’re nearer the sun at this time of year.

Solstice sunsets, showing the sun’s position on the local horizon at December 2015 (left) and June 2016 (right) solstices from Mutare, Zimbabwe, via Peter Lowenstein.

The precise date of the earliest sunset depends on your latitude. At mid-northern latitudes, it comes in early December each year. At northern temperate latitudes farther north – such as in Canada and Alaska – the year’s earliest sunset comes around mid-December. Close to the Arctic Circle, the earliest sunset and the December solstice occur on or near the same day.

By the way, the latest sunrise doesn’t come on the solstice either. From mid-northern latitudes, the latest sunrise comes in early January.

The exact dates vary, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, shortest day on the solstice around December 22, latest sunrise in early January.

And so the cycle continues.

Solstice Pyrotechnics II by groovehouse on Flickr.

Bottom line: The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (that’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time). It marks the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day (first day of winter) and Southern Hemisphere’s longest day (first day of summer). Happy solstice, everyone!

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Well for many in the Northern Hemisphere the worst of the winter weather is yet to come.

But at least the days are drawing longer.

Welcome to the start of a New Year!