Solstice Begins the Shortest Season

December sunrise in Pittsburgh (photo by Kate St. John)

21 December 2023

When the sun stands still tonight at 10:27pm Eastern Time we’ll experience the shortest day of the year and begin the shortest season as well.

Regardless of the weather we change seasons four times a year based on astronomical events: December solstice, March equinox, June solstice, September equinox. Since these events occur at the same moment everywhere on Earth, each of the four seasons lasts the same amount of time for everyone. This is easiest to see on the Seasons page at A screenshot of Pittsburgh at 6am today is shown below.

Current and next seasons in Pittsburgh before the winter solstice (screenshot from

If you don’t like winter, the Northern Hemisphere has the best arrangement. Our astronomical seasons from shortest to longest are:

  • Winter = 88 days, 23 hrs, 39 mins (shortest)
  • Autumn = 89 days, 20 hrs, 37 mins
  • Spring = 92 days, 17 hrs, 44 mins
  • Summer = 93 days, 15 hrs, 52 mins (longest)

Climate change guarantees that winter is the shortest weather season, too. Winter was 21% of the year in 1952 but will take up only 9% of the year by the end of this century.

Average seasonal lengths in Northern Hemisphere, information from

So I’m not counting on a white Christmas.

Read more about the weather-based lengths of the seasons at:

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