Angels – While it may already feel like summer, the first official day of the season officially begins on Sunday, when many cultures from around the world celebrate and recognize the meaning of the summer solstice.
But what is the summer solstice and why is it the longest day of the year? Here are some facts about the important day.
What is a summer solstice?
The summer solstice, which also marks the beginning of summer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum inclination towards the sun.
This happens twice a year, once in each hemisphere.
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For example, the summer solstice occurs between June 20-22 in the northern hemisphere and between December 21-22 in the southern hemisphere (which the US calls the winter solstice).
The longest day of the year
The summer solstice is also considered the longest day of the year – the day with the longest period of hours of sunlight.
WILTSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 21: People watch the midday sun rise over the Stonehenge megalithic monument on June 21, 2005 in Salisbury Plain, England. Crowds gathered in the ancient stone circle to celebrate the Summer Solstice; of
This is partly because it is when the sun has to travel its longest path, reaching the highest and northernmost point of the sky, causing the sun to take longer to rise and set.
In addition, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 23 with respect to the sun, but in the summer solstice, the north pole tilts almost directly toward the sun – the most direct angle of the year.
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Meanwhile, the South Pole moves away from the sun, giving the northern hemisphere long hours of daylight.
“The northern summer solstice is a moment in time when the Earth’s north pole points more directly toward the Sun than at any other time of the year,” NASA wrote.
Yoga enthusiasts from all over the country take part in the annual “Summer Solstice at Times Square Yoga-thon” as taxis head to the June 21, 2007 crossing in New York City. The summer solstice is the first official summer day and the longest day of the year
In fact, solstice means “the sun still stands” in Latin, NASA noted.
“Because the sun is the highest in the sky on this day, you will notice that your shadow (in the bar – or solar – at noon, not at noon) is shorter than it would be during all year round, “explained Almanac Farmers.
When is the summer solstice 2021?
The June solstice will take place on Sunday, June 20, 2021 at 11:32 p.m.
This year, the solstice falls on Father’s Day too!
According to the Farmer Almanac, the June solstice time is not based on a specific calendar date or time – it all depends on when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator.
Therefore, the solstice will not always happen on the same day. Currently, it shifts between June 20-22.
The summer solstice sun shines through the rocks in Stonehenge as observed by thousands of celebrants on June 21, 2019 in Amesbury, UK. (Photo by Chris Gorman / Getty Images)
The first astronomical day of summer, however, always coincides with the summer solstice, hence the first official day of summer varies.
Americans can experience more than 14 hours of sunlight on the summer solstice. Use The Farmer Almanac offers a tool to determine how many hours of sunlight a particular location will take.
Stonehenge and the summer solstice
Some historians point to Stonehenge, an ancient monument in Wiltshire, England as evidence that people once used the June solstice as a way to organize their calendars and start counting the days of the year.
According to English Heritage, a charity that cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites, the sun rises in Stonehenge on the solstice behind the Heel Stone in the north-east of the horizon and its first rays shine in the heart of Stonehenge.
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“The sarsen stones, located in the center of the country around 2500 BC, were carefully lined to align with the movements of the sun,” the English Heritage explained. “Therefore, the entire Stonehenge plan is positioned in relation to the solstices, or extreme limits of the sun’s motion.”
Solstice celebrations and rituals
In ancient times, the date of the June solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to understand when to plant and harvest crops. Traditionally, this time of year was also known for weddings, according to time and date.
In ancient Gual, which includes present-day France, the Feast of Epona was celebrated with fires to mark the solstice or mid-summer.
In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed to celebrate Earth, femininity and “yin” forces.
The day also signifies a turning point during the year, when the days begin to become even shorter. Shift is associated with change, nature and new beginnings, so many festivals and celebrations still take place during the day.
In Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival takes place. The event focuses on the traditions of the summer solstice by the people of the First Nations, according to the Space Tourism Guide.
The Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland is no longer so secretive, but contains music and entertainment. The event has been postponed until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Mid-summer is an opportunity to travel to the countryside and connect with nature. “Many people light fires and stay up all night drinking, singing and dancing,” writes Time and Date.
As thousands of people gather in Stonehenge for the occasion, parts of the United States also attend the celebration with events centered on the theme of the summer solstice.
Watch the sunrise on the summer solstice and the sunset
Sunset and sunrise will be broadcast live for free on English Heritage social media channels and will include exclusive interviews and music. You can see it here.
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