Earth is made up of weird anomalies; there are places like Reykjavik, Iceland that have less than 4 hours of sunlight during the winter and then receiving it for one of the longest duration in summer. Then there are places like Norway and Alaska where the sun never sets. Today happens to be the Summer solstice of the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the sun shines the longest upon the Earth. While it sucks to be in places with already long hours of daylight, places with less hours of sunlight see people come together to celebrate the abundance of sunlight.
The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’. This is because during the solstices, the sun appears to stand still, and then it starts moving in the opposite direction in our sky. It begins to get lower in the sky, and the length of daylight starts getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere.
1. The day the Northern Hemisphere receives its longest daylight hours is called the summer solstice
Since Earth orbits around the sun in a tilted axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to sunlight between March and September. The day the Northern Hemisphere receives its longest daylight hours is called the summer solstice.
For anyone living north of the equator, summer solstice 2017 in Northern Hemisphere was at 9:54 AM (IST) on Wednesday, 21 June. Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5° north latitude.
The opposite happens in the Southern Hemisphere on 21st December.
2. The higher you are on the Northern Hemisphere, the longer the daylight hours
The number of hours you will be seeing the sun depends on how far up you are on the Northern Hemisphere. The further North you are, the longer will be the number of daylight hours you receive. The solstice also gives us the longest twilight of the year.
At the Arctic circle, the sun never really sets during the solstice.
3. It’s unsure when the first Summer solstice was recorded
There is no exact record of when or who discovered the summer solstice for the first time. But the Egyptian Stonehenge seems to the earliest recorded indication that people knew anything about solstices.
4. The latest sunset in India happens in Gujarat
Although the summer solstice is the longest day of the year for that hemisphere, the dates of earliest sunrise and latest sunset vary by a few days. Sarotri Juni, Gujarat will receive almost 14 hours of daylight with the sun setting at 7:31 p.m. today.
However, it’s not necessary that summer solstice means the earliest sunrise of the year.
5. It’s known as the first day of summer
Believe it or not, most scientists and astronomers use the summer solstice to mark the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere! It’s been warm for some time now despite summer not officially beginning until today. That’s because today is the start of the astrological summer, not the meteorological summer. The meteorological summer started on June 1 and runs until August 31.
6. Contrary to popular opinion, the Sun is actually furthest from the Earth on this day
Yep! It’s summer and it’s scorching hot but contrary to what you might think the sun is farthest to the Earth during this time of the year. Apparently, the Earth’s distance from the Sun has very little effect over the seasons on Earth.
Seems like the day is going to be pretty long, so go out and enjoy with your friends and family. The days will eventually get shorter as the sun’s path stops moving northward in the sky. Then it would be time to tuck in earlier and sleep longer!