The summer solstice is happening in the Northern Hemisphere Tuesday, marking the longest day of the year and the first day of the new season. The event officially begins at 5:13 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the Sun travels along its northernmost path in the sky, resulting in the longest day and shortest night of the calendar year.
During the solstice, the sun is at its highest point--over the Tropic of Cancer--and there are the most hours of daylight and least hours of darkness of any day in the year.
Did you know that the Sun actually sets more slowly around the time of a solstice, in that it takes longer to set below the horizon? This is related to the angle of the setting Sun. The farther the Sun sets from due west along the horizon, the shallower the angle of the setting Sun.
The summer solstice has long been celebrated by cultures around the world:
- In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice coincided with the rising of the Nile River. As it was crucial to predict this annual flooding, the Egyptian New Year began at this important solstice.
- In centuries past, the Irish would cut hazel branches on solstice eve to be used in searching for gold, water, and precious jewels.
- Many European cultures hold what are known as Midsummer celebrations at the solstice, which include gatherings at Stonehenge and the lighting of bonfires on hilltops.
Hope you can get out and enjoy our national parks on this, the longest day of the year!
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