There are many misunderstandings regarding solstices. Today we will dispel all delusions and answer the most common questions about this astronomical event. Read our ultimate astronomical guide!
What is a solstice?
Commonly speaking, a solstice is a moment when the Sun’s path is farthest north or south in the sky. This day is the year’s longest or shortest: the Sun travels the longest (shortest) path through the sky, and the day, therefore, has the most (the least) daylight. There are two solstices a year — in June and December.
What is the summer solstice, then? In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs in June, when the Sun is farthest north in the sky. In the Southern Hemisphere, it happens in December, when the Sun is farthest south.
Vice versa, the winter solstice is the December solstice in the northern latitudes and the June solstice in the southern ones.
When is the June solstice 2021?
A solstice day shifts between June 20, 21, and 22. In 2021, the first solstice of the year will occur on June 20, 23:32 EDT (June 21, at 03:32 GMT). Convert this to your time zone to learn the exact time for your location.
In fact, you don’t need to wait for the exact moment of the solstice. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the longest days around the June solstice. Moreover, try to notice how high the Sun appears in the sky at noon, and be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around this time, your shadow will appear the shortest.
When does summer start?
There are different methods to identify seasons. Astronomically speaking, two equinoxes and two solstices a year mark the changing of the seasons. Therefore in the Northern Hemisphere, summer will begin on June 21 and will last till the equinox on September 23, 2021. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, summer will only start on December 21, together with the day of December solstice.
Let’s quickly go through the most commonly asked questions.
Is the June solstice the longest day of the year?
In the Northern Hemisphere — yes. People there will experience more than 12 hours of daylight.
What’s the difference between a solstice and an equinox?
Solstices bring us the longest and shortest days; during equinoxes, days and nights are equal in length. Besides, solstices mark the beginning of summer and winter, while equinoxes mean the start of spring and autumn.
Why doesn’t a solstice fall on the same date each year?
Mainly due to our calendar system. There are 365 days in the Gregorian calendar in an average year and 366 days in a leap year. However, it takes approximately 365.24 days for the Earth to orbit the Sun. The date also varies because of the gravitational pull from the Moon and the slight wobble in the Earth’s rotation.
Why isn’t the June solstice the hottest day of the year?
The Earth takes a while to warm up. On the June solstice, its Northern Hemisphere receives the most of the Sun’s energy, but the heating effect of air temperature culminates only in July-August. The effect is called the lag of the seasons.
What is Midsummer Day?
It’s the middle of the summer. The day varies in different cultures but is usually close to the June solstice. In some cultures, this day is also known as one of the four “quarter days”.
How to celebrate the June solstice?
There are countless festivals, traditions, and religious celebrations dedicated to the June solstice around the world. For example, in Sweden, people collect and eat the first strawberry of the year. This tradition is also associated with the first Full Moon of the season — the Strawberry Moon.
- The June solstice is the first solstice of the year;
- The Sun sets more slowly at the solstice;
- Mars also has solstices that occur with approximately 23-month intervals;
- The June solstice is also called the northern solstice;
- During the June solstice, the Sun is exactly above the Tropic of Cancer which is located at 23° 26′ north of the Equator.
This was all you needed to know about the June solstice. If you enjoyed the article, share it with your friends!
Wishing you clear skies and happy observations!