Summer Solstice 2024: Why It’s the Longest Day of the Year

On Thursday, everyone in the northern part of our planet will experience the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year north of the equator and is the scientific start of summer.

Earth has a solstice every six months, in June and December. Until the summer solstice, the sun appears at a higher point in the sky at the same time every day until it reaches its highest point.

After the summer solstice, the days get shorter. The sun appears lower in the sky each day until the winter solstice on December 21st.

As stated therein National Weather Service, the summer solstice will occur on Thursday at 4:51 PM ET. This is the time of day during the year when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky.

The Sun’s height in the sky changes every day because the Earth rotates on an axis tilted by 23.5 degrees from the vertical. This means that the hemispheres tilt towards or away from the Sun depending on the time of year.

This gives the Earth its seasons: when the northern side of the planet is tilted toward the Sun, it experiences summer; At the same time, the southern half of the planet is tilted away from the Sun and is in winter. Why the Earth is at this angle is a mystery, although some astronomers believe its tilt paved the way for life.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun is greatest. Despite this, the warmest temperatures of the year Usually occurs after a few weeksIn July or August, the sun’s rays take time to warm our planet.

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Whichever planet is inclined it will have solstices. According to NASAEvery planet in our solar system has an axial tilt, but some are more pronounced than others.

Venus and Jupiter have only minor declinations, about 3 degrees, while Mercury, at 0.03 degrees, is barely inclined. Uranus, on the other hand, has an orientation of a whopping 97.8 degrees from vertical, so that one of its poles points directly at the Sun. That extreme tilt causes our solar system to have some dramatic seasons.

Both Saturn and Neptune are tilted closer to Earth. Mars is also at 25.2 degrees, although the red planet has a declination changed dramatically over millions of years.

Every year, people around the world ring in the June solstice with midsummer bonfires, festivals and — for those living above the Arctic Circle — midnight sun celebrations. On the other side of the world, scientists living in Antarctica celebrate their annual midwinter feast to commemorate the continent’s longest, darkest night.

Others visit ancient ruins like Stonehenge in England or the Temple of the Sun in Peru to greet the sun the way the ancients did.

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