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Earth at the Winter Solstice
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Earth at the Winter Solstice

December 25, 2011
Taken on December 22, 2011, this full hemisphere scan from the GOES East satellite shows Earth on the 2011 winter solstice. The solstice is the shortest day of the year, and is also notable because the Sun's angle relative to the planet is at its most southern point, leaving the North Pole in darkness. The high angle is evident in this image, were no visible cloud imagery can be seen over the North Pole, whereas the South Pole is well lit. Clouds are actually present over the North Pole (and would be visible in infrared imagery), however the visible imager sensor on GOES requires sunlight to capture imagery - and there is no sunlight at the high latitudes.

Credit: NOAA