Summer is officially here! June 21 marks the first day of the sunny season and with it comes the Summer solstice. Here’s what you need to know about the longest day of the year.
Welcome to the official start of Summer 2019. The season of late-night barbecues, day trips to the beach, and endless sunshine kicks off on June 21. It’s also the same day of the Summer solstice, which is a big deal for people who engage in pagan rituals. The solstice, a name derived from the Old French and Latin term of ”point at which the sun seems to stand still,” means that people in the Northern hemisphere will experience the most amount of sunlight on this day. As people celebrate this celestial event, here’s the scoop on the 2019 summer solstice.
It takes place at exactly 11:54 am Eastern. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, or at 23.5 degrees north latitude. Because the Earth doesn’t orbit upright, the amount of sunlight a Hemisphere gets throughout the year varies (it’s why we have seasons.) The June solstice is when the planet is positioned in its orbit in such a way that the North Pole is leaning most towards the sun, according to EarthSky.org. Peak sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere will take place just a few minutes before noon on the U.S. East Coast.
It’s the longest day, but your sunlight amount will vary. A solstice is different from an “equinox,” when a part of the planet experiences equal amounts of daylight and nighttime. During the June solstice, different parts of the world will experience anywhere from 14 to 24 hours of daylight, depending on where someone is. The higher north you go – closer to the North Pole – the more sunlight you’ll get. The Southernmost parts of Texas and Florida will get under 14 hours, while parts of Montana and Washington state will get 16 to 17 hours.
All locations north of the equator will experience days longer than 12 hours. Subsequently, places below the equator will have days shorter than 12 hours. The script gets flipped in December. Around Dec. 21, 22, or 23, the Southern Hemisphere experiences its Summer solstice, which is the “Winter solstice” for those living north of the equator.
Hours of daylight on the summer solstice. 😎 pic.twitter.com/8Gm1M1FkPA
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) June 18, 2019
June 21, 2019 probably won’t be the longest day in Earth’s entire history. Ever since the planet has had liquid oceans and a moon, its rotation has been gradually slowing down due to tidal friction, according to Joseph Stromberg in his Vox article. 4.5 billion years ago, it took Earth just six hours to complete one rotation. 350 million years ago, a full rotation took only 23 hours. Given that the planet’s rotation is slowing down, one might assume that each Summer solstice produces a day longer than the last. However, some factors are helping speed up Earth’s rotation – the melting of glacial ice, geological activity, etc. The longest day likely occurred in 1912, but Vox notes that 2019’s solstice is “close” to breaking the record.