Happy Summer Solstice
Ah, summer solstice, the premier event of the summer. The Summer Solstice is the official day that marks the beginning of summer, and honestly what other celestial event is more important than that? Warm beaches, tan skin, and cold beers await us this summer, as the summer solstice occurs on this very day, June 21.
What exactly is the Summer Solstice?
It is the time when the sun travels the longest path along the sky that it will all year. Put in simpler terms – it is the longest day of the year for us, with more sunlight than any other day. So expect about 15-17 hours of light. It’s important to note that this only occurs for places above the northern hemisphere. For those living in the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice actually marks the beginning of winter and highlights the shortest and darkest day of the year.
Once the summer solstice occurs for those in the northern hemisphere, the sun’s path will cease to continue its northward movement in the sky. Afterwards, our daylight time will begin to get shorter and shorter, until we reach winter. This is certainly a strange thing to think about, but the change in daylight time is so gradual, that people often don’t even realize it until later on. By about June 30, we will have lost about 32 seconds of sunlight when compared to the summer solstice.
The way this works is dictated by two things: Earth orbits the sun once every 365 days and our planet rotates once per day around a tilted axis. This tilt is crucial, as it envelopes different parts of the world with different intensities of light over the course of a year. As the summer solstice comes and goes, it will take us about 93 days to reach the autumn equinox, where we will see shorter days and colder weather, due to the Earth being tilted away further away from the sun.
The summer solstice is a wonderful time to spend some time enjoying the outdoors and appreciating nature, so get out there and enjoy this special day.
Fun Fact: How Animals Adjust to More Daylight
Many animals rely on the presence of sun to dictate their sleep schedule. During this time of year, some animals abandon their usual dark-light sleep cycles because of the prolonged amount of sunlight. Cory Williams, a biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks told Live Science:
“Semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) — small, brown-and-white shorebirds that breed above the Arctic Circle — are unfazed by the long periods of daylight. They alternate sleeping and waking hours with their nesting mate throughout the day. When the male is active, the female is at the nest and vice versa. It’s not on a 24-hour schedule. Reindeer also ignore the absence of a light-dark cycle during the summer months. Instead, their sleep cycles are governed by ultradian rhythm, which means they sleep whenever they need to digest food. They lose that long stretch of sleep they would normally have. They take lots of naps during the day instead of one concentrated bout of sleep.”