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Lancashire Times
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Jan Harris
Deputy Group Editor
12:00 AM 20th June 2024
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Today Is The Longest Day!

 
Photo by Elena Rabkina on Unsplash
Photo by Elena Rabkina on Unsplash
The summer solstice can be seen anywhere in Britain and is celebrated every year in lots of different ways. The summer solstice is also the longest day and the shortest night and in 2024 it is today on Thursday 20 June, that is if you live north of the equator.


Is the solstice the first day of summer?

This is debatable. It depends on whether you're speaking meteorolgically or astronomically. Meteorologists divide the year into four seasons allowing them to organise climate data better. Summer therefore starts 1st June and ends 31st August.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash
Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash
Astronomically the first day of summer is when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky which is on the summer solstice (20-22 June).

The astronomical start date is based on the position of the sun in relation to the earth. In 2024 the summer solstice falls on Thursday 20 June, which is also the longest day of the year.

The summer solstice falls between planting and harvesting crops and so farmers and landworkers would have time to relax which meant that June became popular for weddings.

Six months later is the winter solstice also known as the shortest day of the year. The summer solstice can be any date between 20 and 22 June. The astronomical summer lasts until the autumnal equinox which in 2024 is on Sunday 23 September.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash
Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash
Spring Equinox:
20/23 March
Summer Solstice:
20/22 June
Autumn Equinox:
21/24 September
Winter Solstice:
20/23 December


What is it?

'Solstice' comes from the Latin, 'solstitium', sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because the path of the sun seems to come to a halt before reversing direction.

It is the time when the earth in the northern hemisphere is nearest towards the sun and so gets the most daylight of the year.

Solstices are opposite on either side of the equator, so the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere is the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere and vice versa.

Photo by Roma Kaiuk🇺🇦 on Unsplash
Photo by Roma Kaiuk🇺🇦 on Unsplash
Some facts about the June solstice

The summer solstice is the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.
The summer solstice has the longest day of daylight.
There are nearly 17 hours of daylight on the longest day in the northern hemisphere.
'Solstice' comes from the Latin, 'solstitium', sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still)
Solstices happen twice a year - in June and December.
The Earth is actually farthest from the Sun during this time of the year.
The solstice is celebrated around the world.
The earliest sunrise of the year is normally before the summer solstice.
The Arctic Circle has 24 hours of daylight around the June solstice which is often called the Midnight Sun.
The sun is more powerful at the summer solstice so associated with fertility and new beginnings.

Is Midsummer's Day the longest day?

Midsummer's day falls on the 24 June, 3 days after the longest day (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere which is between 20-22 June.

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash
Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash
Who celebrates?

Hundreds, if not thousands of people often flock to the ancient site of Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice, as Stonehenge has been a prehistoric site of worship and celebration for thousands of years.

At the summer solstice the sun rises directly above the Heel Stone which stands outside the circle of stones to the north-east.

It is said that the giant stones of Stonehenge were so positioned to align with the sunrise on the two annual solstices.

Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay
Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay
Some facts about summer

More thunderstorms occur during the summer than at any other time of the year
Crickets get chirpy in the summer
The longest day of the year is in summer
Ice pops were invented in 1905 by an 11 year old boy.
The Eiffel Tower actually grows in the heat of the summer
The first Olympic Games in the modern era were the 1896 Summer Olympics
The warmest summer in the UK was in 2006 when daytime temperatures averaged 15.8 °C
July is national ice cream month
On 2 June 1975, snow showers forced the abandonment of several cricket matches across the country
The coldest summer temperature recorded was around -5.6 degrees centigrade – both in 1955 and in 1962


So let's hope that the sun shines and we can enjoy the longest day.

Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash
Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash