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As you've noticed, the winterAs you've noticed, the winter season spans the end of one year and the beginning of the next in the Gregorian calendar. December 21, 2012, at 6:12 am EST starts the first day of winter 2012/2013 (often just listed as winter 2012). Winter 2013/2014 (winter 2013) would begin on December 21, 2013, at 12:11 pm EST. In astronomy, each year in the Northern Hemisphere can be defined as beginning with the spring (vernal) equinox in March. The summer solstice occurs in June, the autumnal equinox in September, and the winter solstice in December. Astronomically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is defined as when the Sun reaches its greatest declination (23-1/2 degrees) south of the celestial equator, around December 21. So, winter 2012 marks the time when the first day of winter begins for 2012/2013. It's the time when the Sun reaches its southernmost declination for the year 2012.

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