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What is Summer Solstice?

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod

A day will have 12 hours always. But did you know that the length of the day changes throughout the year? This is also why the days are so long in summer and so short in winter!

When is Summer Solstice?

In the northern hemisphere, it is around June 20 or 21, that we experience the longest day of the year. This is known as the summer solstice or, alternatively, June solstice.

Why does Summer Solstice occur?

The answer lies in the Earth’s tilt! Like we know, the Earth orbits around the sun at an angle of just about 23.5 degrees.

So, when a particular hemisphere is facing the sun, it experiences the summer solstice.

Consequently, when the northern part of the Earth is tilted towards the sun, days in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth get longer. The temperature is warmer. And we see that summer has set in for that half of the planet. Moreover, the day of the solstice is known to represent the start of the summer for the hemisphere which faces the sun.

Interestingly, it has been observed that the sun appears to stand still in the sky for a few days before and after the solstice.

What does “Solstice” mean?

In fact, the word solstice is derived from two Latin words: “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere” to cause to stand still.

Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 each year in the southern hemisphere.

Six months later, when the Earth has revolved half-way around the sun, the North Pole is tilted as far away from the sun as it ever gets. Days are shorter and the temperature is cooler. We see that winter slowly sets in.

Summer Solstice Facts

  • The June solstice dates vary. For example, it’s on June 21 in 2015, but on June 20 in 2016.
  • A June 22 solstice will not occur until 2203. The last time there was a June 22 solstice was in 1971.
  • Summer solstice celebrations have been taking place for thousands of years. People from many different cultures have held solstice celebrations.
  • For our distant ancestors who were dependent on hunting, gathering, and growing, the solstice played a central role in their lives.
  • As of date, the summer solstice marks a time of celebration for Christians and Pagans.
  • In Christianity, the first day of summer marks the festival of St. John the Baptist, and in Paganism followers celebrate what they call ‘midsummer’ with bonfires and feasts.

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