The solstice, and shortest day of 2014, is approaching

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sunset near telluride
A winter sunset near Telluride

The winter solstice for 2014 will be on Dec. 21. It's the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. On that day, Denver will have precisely 5 hours 38 minutes less daylight than during the summer solstice in June.

On Dec. 22, the sun will be out a bit longer in Colorado, according to In Denver, residents will enjoy 1 second of additional daylight the day after the solstice.

And daylight will increase until the summer solstice, says Doug Duncan, Director of the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder.

Nasa earth and sun

The solstice is the result of a 23.5 degree tilt in the Earth’s axis. As the Northern Hemisphere leans away from the sun, the days in Colorado get shorter. The Southern Hemisphere experiences the opposite effect.

The Earth’s tilt may be the result of a collision long ago in space, explains Duncan.

“Our early solar system wasn’t a calm place, it was more like a shooting gallery,” he says, and planet-sized debris may have knocked Earth about.

Mars has an axial tilt similar to that of Earth’s, while Venus and Uranus have very exaggerated tilts.