|summer-solstice a couple enjoying|
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice begins at 6:51 a.m. EDT on June 21, according to Almanac.com, officially ringing in summer. The date brings the year’s longest stretch of daylight. Though the hours of sunlight depend on location, many areas will see 16 hours’ worth of light on Saturday.
Did you ever wonder why the days are so long in the summer and so short in the winter? The length changes throughout the year. In the summer, around June 20 or 21, we experience the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. And in the winter, December 21 or 22 is the winter solstice, or shortest day.
But wait! If you live in Australia, you experience the opposite—the longest day is in December and the shortest is in June. Why?
The answer all depends on Earth's tilt. In the course of one year, Earth orbits around the sun. It does not complete this trip, however, with the North Pole at the top and the South Pole at the bottom because Earth is tilted. In fact, it's tilted just about 23.5 degrees. So at different times of the year, either the northern or the southern hemisphere is tilted toward and is therefore closer to the sun.
Solstice & Equinox
A solstice is different from an equinox, the two times each year when the sun is directly above the Earth's equator and day and night are of equal length. Equinoxes mark the beginning of spring (March) and fall (September).
Sun Stands Still
Solstice loosely translated in Latin is "sun stands still". For several days before and after each solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky, i.e., its noontime elevation does not seem to change from day to day.
Historically, the solstice has been celebrated by numerous cultures around the world. Thousands of people annually celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.
At sunrise at Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, the rising sun appears behind one of the main stones, creating the illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone.