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Things to notice at the June solstice

Live in the Americas? Then your solstice may be today. The solstice comes on June 21, 2017 at 4:24 UTC; translate to your time zone. In North America, that’s June 21 at 1:24 a.m. ADT and 12:24 a.m. EDT – yet on June 20 at 11:24 p.m. CDT, 10:24 p.m. MDT, 9:24 p.m. PDT and 8:24 p.m. AKDT (Alaskan Daylight Time). Whether that northernmost sun comes today or tomorrow for you, this post will give you some quick info on things to look for during a 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

Shortest day for N. Hemisphere, but not the latest sunrise

The slowest sunsets come around the solstices

Read more: June solstice 2017

View larger. | Nikolaos Pantazis wrote: “Every year, on the days around summer solstice, the setting sun aligns with that rock, near the village of Platanos, Peloponnese, Greece.”

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.

The June solstice gives us the year’s northernmost sunrise and northernmost sunset. The northernmost sunrise and sunset delivers the year’s longest period of daylight to the Northern Hemisphere yet the shortest period of daylight in the Southern Hemisphere. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun neither rises nor sets but stays above the horizon for 24 hours around the clock. South of the Antarctic circle, the sun neither rises nor sets but stays beneath the horizon for 24 hours.

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.

View larger. | 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!

View larger. | In the months leading up to the June solstice, the sun sets progressively farther north, that is, toward your right as you stand facing west. Photo by Abhijit Juvekar in India.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Bottom line: Some quick info that’ll help you connect with nature at the June solstice, 2017!

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Deborah Byrd

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