June 21, 2011. The start of summer. The summer solstice is amongst us in the northern hemisphere. June 21st this year, but can be the 20th or the 22nd depending upon the calendar year. The longest day of the year. The shortest night of the year.
Be sure to thoroughly enjoy the light of the day, and the darkness of night.
The June solstice occurs when the sun is at its furthest point from the equator – it reaches its northernmost point and the earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.5 degrees. It is also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere. According to Swinburne University of Technology, if the earth’s rotation was at right angles to the plane of its orbit around the sun, there would be no solstice days and no seasons.
The June solstice day has the longest hours of daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those living or travelling to the north of the Arctic Circle are able to see the “midnight sun”, where the sun remains visible throughout the night, while those living or travelling south of the Antarctic Circle will not see sun during this time of the year. For those living near the equator, the sun does not shift up and down in the sky as much compared with other geographical locations away from the equator during this time of the year. This means that the length of day temperature does not vary as much.
The June solstice marks the first day of the summer season in the northern hemisphere. The word solstice is from the Latin word “solstitium”, meaning “sun-stopping”, because the point at which the sun appears to rise and set stops and reverses direction after this day. On this day, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west allowing it to be in the sky for a longer period of time. In the southern hemisphere, the June solstice is known as the shortest day of the year. It is when the sun has reached its furthest point from the equator and marks the first day of winter.