New Delhi: A snowy Google Doodle on Friday marked the 2018 winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the Earth is farthest from the Sun.
This year it is particularly special as the upcoming December full moon, named the Cold Moon, will be visible in the night sky along with the Ursid meteor shower.
The moon will appear full both on Friday and Saturday nights. Native Americans marked December's full moon as the beginning of the coldest part of the year.
The American Meteor Society says the Ursids should be visible in the mid-Northern Hemisphere. At the peak there should be about 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before dawn.
Friday also marks the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere when it will pass through its longest night of the year.
The Google Doodle features a "mousy" animated figure ice skating above a mouse hole. It appears, he has collected food for hibernation. The animation ends with the figure rolling into the hole while covered in snow.
In India, winter solstice will take place at 3.53 a.m. on December 22 and will be marked by a host of religious observances and celebrations.
On this day, the North Pole angles farthest away from the sun, the Google blog explained. The sun would be at its lowest position throughout the Northern Hemisphere sky.
People around the globe have celebrated this astronomical milestone for centuries.
In Ireland, people gather days before the solstice at Newgrange -- a massive gravesite that is more than 5,000 years old. Crowds selected by lottery wait for a chance to see the sunrise light up the ancient passage tomb.
At Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, large crowds gather to celebrate and capture the moment when the sun directly aligns with the famous stones.
In China, where they call the Winter Solstice Dongzhi Festival, people enjoy rice balls called tang yuan, which translates to "family reunion". This treat is said to bring prosperity and unity-something all of us can enjoy on this auspicious day. (IANS)