It is my understanding that the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere occur at the same point in time. However, local time, due to time zones, will vary. At the December solstice, Earth reaches a spot in its orbit such that its northern axis points the farthest away from the Sun (Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees away from an upright position). The timing of this event is not dependent on where you are on Earth (such as a sunrise would be). However, the local time will change. Astronomers often list these events in Universal Time (UT), which is tied in to the time at Greenwich, England (0 degree longitude). From there, we need to convert to our local time.
Sometimes, the seasons occur near midnight. Therefore, as the event gets translated into local time, it may occur on one of two days (late evening of one day or early morning of the next day). This situation is happening for the December solstice in 2011. In Universal Time, the December solstice occurs on December 22 at the 5th hour 30th minute. In Eastern Standard Time, this is 12:30 am on December 22. However, in Central Time, this is December 21 at 11:30 pm; Mountain Standard is December 21 at 10:30 pm; Pacific Standard is December 21 at 9:30 pm, etc.
Hope this helps!
The Old Farmer's Almanac
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