Winter Solstice at Bandelier National Monument

The eastern sky driving into Bandelier National Monument at about 7 a.m. Friday for the winter solstice. Photo by TK Thompson/

People mill about the Tyuonyi Peublo ruins after the sun showed itself. Photo by TK Thompson/

Staff Report

About 25 people braved the balmy 12 degree weather at 7:15 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21 to view the sunrise over the Tyuonyi Pueblo Ruins at Bandelier National Monument for the winter solstice.

Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the winter solstice occurs annually on a day between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north (Arctic Polar Circle) are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south (Antarctic Polar Circle) receive 24 hours of daylight.

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun.

The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the equator.

Those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.

On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight.

Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.


A kool kiva. Photo by TK Thompson/

Bandelier Ranger Chris Judson casts her shadow down the entry path to Tyuonyi Pueblo as the sun clears the cliffs Dec. 21, the winter solstice. Photo by TK Thompson/
Petroglyphs high on the cliff wall above the Talus House. Photo by TK Thompson/
The morning sun illuminates the tuff spires in front of the Main Loop Trail. Photo by TK Thompson/
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