Sunday will mark the annual winter solstice. At 47° 36′ 23″ N latitude, Seattle is the most northerly large city in America, and with that we have one of the shortest winter days in the continental United States. On Sunday, December 21st, the sun will rise at 7:55 am and set at 4:20 pm, giving us just 8 hours and 25 minutes of daylight. The weak winter sun will just barely be above the horizon, peaking at 19 degrees at 12:08 pm before dropping back down below the horizon again at dusk.
Pacific Northwest native american tribes traditionally celebrated the winter solstice season with elaborate potlatches, featuring feasting, dancing, and gift-giving to form bonds and solidify relationships. This weekend, those interested in celebrating the winter solstice can try out the 26th annual Winter Solstice Feast in the artsy Freemont district, or try the winter solstice candlelight walk in Snohomish.
For scuba divers, the time around winter solstice means we can get started on our night dives extra early, this week at 3:30 pm to time our dive for dusk, when marine and terrestrial life are most active. Giant pacific octopus, Pacific spiny lumpsuckers, and several rockfish species are abundant this time of year, and combined with excellent water visibility in winter make this a great time to schedule a guided dive tour.