December 21, 2012 has the longest night, not end of the world

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December 21, 2012 passed and the world did end as doomsday sayers were predicting.

But the day did not pass without a cosmic event.

According to Al Quiblat of the Mactan weather station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Agency (Pagasa), Friday evening was  the longest this year, with sunset at 5:20 p.m. yesterday and sunrise at 5:57 a.m. today.

Known as the winter solstice, Dec. 21 signaled the onset of winter season in the northern hemisphere. Although, the Philippines does not have a winter season, it did experience the winter solstice according to Quiblat because  the country is  located slightly above the equator.

But Quiblat explained that solstice is an annual phenomena and is nothing out of the ordinary.

“It occurs annually between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23. The solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. It is when the north pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun,” Quiblat said.

If countries in northern hemisphere experienced longest night, it also marked the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the equator, he added.

There were widespread rumors around the world that Dec. 21, 2012 would be the end of the world as it is the last day of the calendar of the Mayan, an ancient civilization in South America that had declined in the 900 A.D. or 1,112 years ago.

According to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the hoax started with claims that “Nibiru,” a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, was headed towards Earth.

This “catastrophe” was initially predicted for May 2003 but when nothing happened, the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012––hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012./correspondent Fe Marie D. Dumaboc

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