Summer is here! It will be the June solstice on Wednesday, June 21, which marks the beginning of summer for those living in the Northern Hemisphere. There is a worldwide celebration of the solstice observed by many cultures. Discover solstice facts, folklore, and fun!
Solstice in June
When the Sun travels along its northernmost path in the sky, the June solstice is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, this is the official start of summer. As opposed to the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere begins winter with the June solstice.
Summer Solstice is when?
Wednesday, June 21, 2023, will be the June solstice, occurring at 10:58 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere officially begins summer, when the North Pole is tilting at its maximum angle (about 23.5 degrees) toward the Sun, resulting in the longest day and shortest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. The June solstice is the longest day of the year, with the longest period of sunlight hours.
The June solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Summer Solstice: What Is It?
Summer solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere when the Sun reaches its northernmost and highest point. This is the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. During the June solstice, the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, marking the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Solstice” is derived from the Latin solstitium, from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped). The Sun doesn’t rise and set at the same place on the horizon every morning and evening due to Earth’s tilted axis; it moves northward or southward as Earth travels around the Sun each year. Over the course of the year, the Sun’s track in the sky changes. The June solstice is significant since the Sun’s path remains unchanged for a brief time after reaching its northernmost position in the sky.
In the aftermath of the solstice, the Sun reverses direction and heads back in the opposite direction. When viewed at the same time in the sky every day, such as noon locally, the motion of the Sun is its apparent path. In the course of the year, its path forms an analemma, a flattened figure eight. It is true that the Sun does not move (unless you consider its own orbit around the Milky Way galaxy); instead, we on Earth notice this change in position in the sky because of a tilt in Earth’s axis as it orbits the Sun, and because of the elliptical, rather than circular, orbit in which it travels.
Is the Solstice always on the same day?
The June solstice does not have a specific calendar date or time; it is determined by when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator. So, the solstice will not always occur on the same day every year. As of now, it alternates between June 20, 21, and 22.
Longest daylight of the year
Sunlight is longest on the Summer Solstice. At the solstice, the Sun is at its highest point in the sky; its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing summer’s efficient warming.
During June solstice, the Sun is at its highest point in the sky for those located south of the Tropic of Cancer, and you’ll notice that your shadow (at local noon, not clock-time noon) will be the shortest all year (there is no shadow at the Tropic of Cancer). Local noon is when the Sun crosses the local meridian (a line drawn between the North and South poles) and is at its highest point in the sky.
As the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter, the June solstice marks the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Summer Solstice: What Is It?
In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice (also known as summer solstice) occurs when the Sun reaches its northernmost and highest point. In the northern hemisphere, it marks the beginning of summer. Winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere at the June solstice, when the Sun is at its lowest point.
Solstice originates from the Latin solstitium, which means sun still or stopped. As Earth travels around the Sun through the year, the Sun doesn’t rise and set at the same location each morning and evening because of the tilt of its axis. Throughout the year, the Sun’s trajectory in the sky changes. During the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, when its path doesn’t change for a brief period of time.
It appears that the Sun reverses direction after the solstice. During the same time each day, one can view the Sun’s position in the sky at the same time, for example, at local noon, to see its apparent path. Its path forms a flattened figure eight over the course of a year, known as an analemma. This change in position in the sky that we notice as we orbit the Sun is caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis as it orbits the Sun, as well as by the elliptical, rather than circular, orbit of Earth as it orbits the Sun. The Sun, however, does not move (unless you consider its own orbit around the Milky Way galaxy).
Are the Solstices always the same day?
As the Sun approaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator, it determines when the June solstice falls. Due to this, the solstice won’t always occur on the same day every year. The date shifts between June 20, 21, and 22 at the moment.
The Year’s Longest Day
During the Summer Solstice, there is the longest period of daylight. During the solstice, the Sun’s rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.
For those locations at the Tropic of Cancer and northward, the Sun is highest in the sky on the June solstice, so your shadow will be the shortest of the year (at local, or solar, noon, not clock-time noon). In fact, there will be no shadow at the Tropic of Cancer. When the Sun is highest in the sky for the day at noon, it crosses the local meridian (an imaginary line between the North and South poles).
It is the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of winter for those living in the Southern Hemisphere.
Questions and Answers
Summer solstice is the first day of summer, right?
Technically, yes and no. It depends on whether we’re talking about the meteorological or astronomical start of the season. It is easier for meteorologists to compare and organize climate data when they divide the year into four seasons based on the months and temperature cycle. According to this system, summer begins on June 1 and ends on August 31. Meteorologically, summer does not begin on the summer solstice.
Astronomically, however, summer starts on the summer solstice (June 20-22), when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky. As a result, astronomically speaking, the summer solstice marks the beginning of summer. You may choose to follow whichever system you like best!
The exact timing of the solstice also affects the first day of the season, which is another topic of debate. In the case of the solstice occurring at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday, should we consider that day as the first day of summer, or should we consider the following day (Sunday)? Depending on which source you follow, it tends to differ.
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, isn’t it?
Yes, of course! It is on the solstice that the sun’s daily periods of illumination reach their longest, then they begin to shorten again as spring closes and summer begins.
The Sun is at its highest point on the solstice, and it takes longer for it to rise and set. The full Moon opposite the Sun appears lowest in the sky when the Sun is at its highest near the summer solstice!
The winter solstice is the opposite of the summer solstice: The sun is at its lowest point in the sky. The rays of winter sunlight strike the Earth at an oblique angle
What is the reason for the Summer Solstice not falling on the same day every year?
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs between June 20 and 22. Gregorian calendars have 365 days, while tropical calendars (how long it takes Earth to orbit the Sun once), which have 365.242199 days, differ. About every four years, the Gregorian calendar adds a leap day to make up for the missing fraction of days, which pushes the summer date backward. As well as the slight wobble in Earth’s rotation, other influences affect the date, including the gravitational pull of the Moon and planets.
When it comes to the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – why does it not also have the highest temperature?
Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans absorb some of the incoming solar energy and store it, releasing it back into the atmosphere at different rates. The heat transfer rate of water is slower than that of air or land. A combination of the sun’s angle and the length of the day results in the Northern Hemisphere receiving the most energy from the Sun at the summer solstice. Although spring’s temperatures have caused the land and oceans to be relatively cool, the maximum effect of the heating on air temperatures has not yet been felt. Over time, the land and oceans will release stored heat from the summer solstice back into the atmosphere. Due to this, the hottest temperatures of the year usually occur in late July, August, or later, depending on the latitude. A seasonal temperature lag is a result of this effect.
What is Midsummer Day (June 24)?
Historically, Midsummer Day marks the halfway point between planting and harvesting. Some cultures refer to it as one of four “quarter days.” It is a time when people feast, dance, sing, and prepare for the hot summer days ahead.
You can pick strawberries. On the solstice, treat yourself to strawberries and cream.
Some people celebrate the beginning of summer by eating fresh strawberries, like the Swedes. A strawberry and cream dessert would be the perfect way to celebrate June solstice, since June’s full Moon is also known as the Strawberry Moon. These festivals typically coincide with strawberry ripening in the northeastern and midwestern regions of the country. There are many states where strawberry picking is ideal at this time of year! Find a strawberry farm near you that lets you pick your own!
Enjoy a bonfire on Solstice evening!
A solstice holiday called Midsummer’s Day is also celebrated by many northerners on June 24, one of the year’s four ancient quarter days. The night prior marks the shortest night of the year, Midsummer’s Eve. A bonfire party is a common way to celebrate! It has been a long, dark winter for these northern people! There is nothing more beautiful than torches and bonfires lit up on mountainside in the Austrian state of Tyrol.
Ancient Latvian legend says that Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s Eve) is spent awake by a bonfire and searching for a magical fern flower – said to bring good fortune – before cleansing one’s face in the morning dew.
Sunrise is NOT the earliest at the solstice
Though the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, the earliest sunrises occur before the solstice. Your latitude will determine the exact timing: Mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere experience it about a week ahead of the June solstice.
Sunrises are timed by the inclination of the Earth’s rotational axis and its elliptical (rather than circular) orbit. Depending on latitude, the latest sunset of the year occurs several days after the solstice.
Solstice sunsets are slower
It is actually true that the Sun takes longer to set below the horizon around the time of a solstice? There is a relationship between this and the angle at which the Sun sets. The sun sets at a shallower angle the farther it is from due west on the horizon. In contrast, the speed is faster at or near the equinoxes. So, enjoy those romantic summertime sunsets!