What Happens on the day of the Summer Solstice?

By Adrija Sen

Summer solstice celebrates everything about summertime and the prosperity and abundance summer brings. But have you ever thought much about its rich scientific and cultural history?

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Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of the astronomical summer.

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On the day of the summer solstice, the Sun in the sky is farthest from us on Earth, making it the longest day. This moment comes twice a year, in June in the Northern Hemisphere and in December in the Southern Hemisphere.

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During the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted about 23.4° toward the Sun because it shifts northward from the Equator. The Sun’s rays are directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, making it the longest day.

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Six months later, the same thing happens in the Southern Hemisphere, with the Sun’s rays directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn.

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According to the astronomical definition, the summer solstice also marks the beginning of summer, which lasts until the autumnal equinox (September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and March 20 in the Southern Hemisphere).

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Summer Solstice has been celebrated since ancient times and is connected with many pagan cultures. This day marks Midsummer, or the ancient middle of summer, one of the most popular celebrations of that time.

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Considered a truly magical time, the title of Shakespeare’s famous play A Midsummer Night's Dream references this day, giving it the famous mystical touch.

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Many believe that Neolithic stone circles were built around the Sun's movement at Solstices, a famous example being the Neolithic monuments at Newgrange in Ireland, which date back 5,000 years ago.

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Stonehenge in the UK is another famous example of the Summer Solstice festival that continues to happen even to this day!

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