One of the best things in the summer is the extra hours of daylight, and summer solstice is the ultimate day in that regard.
Even though the summer has just begun, days begin to shorter from here. The next thing you know is that you shop in your sunscreen and shorts for scarves and hand warmer. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here is a look at some interesting facts about the unofficial first summer day.
It happens on different dates
Summer solstice takes place between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year and your time zone. In 2019, solstice falls on June 21 at. 11:54. EDT.
It is the longest day of the year (kind)
Technically, this is not the longest day of the year, because every day has the same number of hours, but summer solstice is the day of the year with most hours of sunlight. As the old farmer's almanac points out, the opposite happens to the winter solstice: "The sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the northern hemisphere at an angle and create the weak winter light."
It's technically just a moment
The moment with summer solstice is when the sun is directly overhead of the Cancer Trope at noon. The way back when the Cancer Cancer got its name because the sun appeared in the Cancer constellation, Discover magazine reports. Because of the displacement of the earth's axis, the Cancer Cancer now has the wrong name. In the summer solstices, the sun is now seen in the constellation Taurus.
It's the first summer day … or not
Summer solstice might not start the summer, depending on who you ask. In meteorology, summer begins June 1
Crowds greet summer solstice at Stonehenge in 2016. (Photo: Stonehenge Stone Circle / Flickr)
That's a big case at Stonehenge
There have been many theories as to why the prehistoric monument was built, but the most widely accepted interpretation is that Stonehenge was a temple in keeping with the sun's movements, reporting English heritage. Thousands of people gather at the structure, sometimes dressed in Druid clothing, to mark the moment in June in the summer solstice.
Other planets also have sunflowers
Actually, in 2016, Mars and Earth had sunbeds that fell within a few days of each other – but that's because Mars has such an eccentric circuit.
It's the longest day, but not the hottest day
Although we get the most sunstroke in the summer solstice, it's not the hottest day of the year. They are still typically weeks away. The old farmer's almanac explains this in this way:
In the summer solstice, the northern hemisphere receives the most energy (highest intensity) from the sun because of the sunlight and day's length. However, land and oceans are still relatively cool due to spring temperatures, so the maximum heat output of the air temperature is not yet marked. Eventually, the soil and especially the oceans will release stored heat from summer solstice back into the atmosphere. This usually results in the hottest temperatures of the year, which appear at the end of July, August or later, depending on latitude and other factors. This effect is called seasonal temperature delay.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated since it was published in June 2016.
7 things to know about summer solstice
Summer solstice, the unofficial first summer day, is the day with most daylight.