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June solstice brings northernmost sun

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Tonight for June 20, 2014

We use the beautiful photo above in honor of the upcoming June solstice. It’s from one of our favorite sky photographers, Dan Bush. What … solstice time already? Yes. The solstice comes on June 21, 2014 at 10:51 UTC. For North American time zones, that places the solstice at 6:51 a.m. EDT, 5:51 a.m. CDT, 4:51 a.m. MDT and 3:51 a.m. PDT. It brings the northernmost sun for the year, as seen from around the globe. This post will give you some quick info on things to look for during this solstice. Follow the links below to learn more.

Solstice brings extremes of daylight and darkness

In N. Hemisphere, noontime shadows are shortest at this solstice

Each solstice marks a “turning” of the year

Longest day for N. Hemisphere, but not the latest sunset

Read more: Everything you need to know about the June solstice, 2014

Abhijit Juvekar in India captured an image of the sunset over a period of months, to show that the sun sets progressively farther north in the months leading up to the June solstice.  Thank you, Abhijit!

Abhijit Juvekar in Dombivli, India created this composite image of sunsets over a period of months, to show that the sun sets progressively farther north in the months leading up to the June solstice. Thank you, Abhijit!

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the June solstice (2014 June 21 at 10:51 Universal Time). Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the June solstice (2014 June 21 at 10:51 Universal Time). Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

Solstice brings extremes of daylight and darkness. Earth’s orbit around the sun – and tilt on its axis – have brought us to a place in space where our world’s Northern Hemisphere has its time of greatest daylight: its longest day and shortest night. Meanwhile, the June solstice brings the shortest day and longest night south of the equator.

In N. Hemisphere, noontime shadows are shortest at this solstice On this solstice, the sun takes its most northerly path across the sky for the year. It’s the year’s highest sun, as seen from the tropic of Cancer and all places north. Thus your noontime shadow is shortest. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true. This solstice marks the lowest sun and longest noontime shadow for those on the southern part of Earth’s globe.

Each solstice marks a “turning” of the year. Even as this northern summer begins with the solstice, throughout the world the solstice also represents a “turning” of the year. To many cultures, the solstice can mean a limit or a culmination of something. From around the world, the sun is now setting and rising as far north as it ever does. The solstice marks when the sun reaches its northernmost point for the year. After the June solstice, the sun will begin its subtle shift southward on the sky’s dome again. Thus even in summer’s beginning, we find the seeds of summer’s end.

At very northerly latitudes now, the sun is up all night.  Here is the sun at 3 a.m. - as seen on June 18, 2013, by EarthSky Facebook friend Birgit Boden in northern Sweden.  Thank you, Birgit!

At very northerly latitudes now, the sun is up all night. Here is the sun at 3 a.m. – as seen in June, 2013 by EarthSky Facebook friend Birgit Boden in northern Sweden. Thank you, Birgit!

Longest day for N. Hemisphere, but not the latest sunset. The latest sunset doesn’t come on the day of the summer solstice. Neither does the earliest sunrise. The exact dates vary with latitude, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunrise before the summer solstice, longest day on the summer solstice, latest sunset after the summer solstice.

Read more about the earliest sunrises here, and read more about the latest sunsets here.

Bottom line: The June solstice comes on June 21 at 10:51 UTC or 5:51 a.m. Central Daylight Time for us in central U.S. There is no official beginning to summer or winter; no world body has designated it so. Yet many will call this day the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

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