The Northern Hemisphere Summer Will Begin On June 20 With The Longest Day Of The Year

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June 20, 2020, is the astronomical start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (Credit: manorhousebuilders.com)

With the days getting increasingly longer and warmer, the Northern Hemisphere summer may seem to be well on its way. However, though the meteorological season, which evenly splits the 12 months of the year into four seasons, started on June 1, 2020, the astronomical summer will not begin until June 20, 2020. Called summer solstice, it is the day when the North Pole is most inclined towards the Sun, allowing residents of the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Conversely, Southern Hemisphere residents will celebrate the astronomical start of winter, or winter solstice, with the shortest day (and longest night) of 2020.

Though the celebrations extend throughout the day, the solstice technically occurs at a single point in time — when the Sun is right over the Tropic of Cancer, its farthest northerly position in the sky. In 2020, this will occur at 5:43 pm ET (2:43 pm PT). Interestingly, the longest day of the year does not coincide with the earliest sunrise or latest sunset of the year. Those will take place a week before and a week after the solstice, respectively. The mismatch is due to our planet's elliptical orbit, which causes it to travel at different speeds – fastest when it's closest to the Sun and slowest when farthest away, as is the case in the summer. Earth's velocity around its axis, on the other hand, remains constant throughout the year. The difference between our planet's orbital motion and its own rotation determines the exact sunrise and sunset times.

The Northern Hemisphere summer solstice occurs when the Sun is at its farthest northerly point in the sky (Credit: Farmersalmanac.com)

While all countries north of the equator will enjoy at least 12 hours of daylight, many will get much more. The residents of the beautiful city of San Francisco, CA, will bask in over 14 hours of sunshine, while the folks in London, UK, will enjoy just over 18 hours. The Swedish city of Stockholm will experience 21 hours of light and some areas of the Arctic Circle will have a full 24 hours!

The summer solstice is usually observed with numerous public events worldwide. One of the oldest and most revered celebrations takes place at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. Though its exact purpose is a mystery, the Neolithic stone circle — built in three phases between 3000 BC and 1600 BC — is designed to align with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. Thousands of visitors from around the world gather at the historic site every year to witness the magical sight of the Sun rising above the stones. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, visitors will not be able to access the site this year. To make up for the disappointment, Stonehenge officials will live stream the summer solstice sunrise and sunset on social media sites such as Facebook.

Observing the sunrise at Stonehenge is a popular summer solstice tradition (Credit: Andrew Dunn/ CC-BY-SA- 2.0/Wikipedia Commons)

Stonehenge director Nichola Tasker said, "We hope that our live stream offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year."

The coastal city of Santa Barbara, CA, which usually hosts a three-day summer solstice celebration with elaborate parades, is also taking this year's festival online. The two-day event, which starts on June 19, 2020, features a host of fun festivities, including solstice-related films and documentaries, interviews with special guests, a virtual dance party, and even a virtual parade! If you know of any other online summer solstice activities, be sure to share it with us by adding your comments below.

Resources: abcactionnews.com, newminer.com, wikipedia.com

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113 Comments
  • helen0916
    helen0916Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 5:23 pm
    Summer is the best season with winter
    • unicornpuppy10
      unicornpuppy10Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 8:50 am
      cool but sad 😒😬😁😆
      • monkeysnacher
        monkeysnacherSunday, July 26, 2020 at 4:51 pm
        Happy LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!🎉🎉
        • thejackal
          thejackalWednesday, July 15, 2020 at 7:11 am
          We are really thankful to have a big yard in covid.
          • animalie
            animalieThursday, July 9, 2020 at 1:50 pm
            Summer! It's a great time to have fun, but, you'll get less smart so you have to do schoolwork. Right now i'm doing reading for schoolwork.
            • wolfieland
              wolfielandWednesday, July 8, 2020 at 9:52 am
              summer is amazing! i have more time for minecraft and roblox! but i do miss my friends at school tho :( hope u guys r safe!
              • unicornpuppy10
                unicornpuppy10Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 8:52 am
                we are... I don't like COVID 19 I miss my friends...
                • ipsbrooke07
                  ipsbrooke07Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 12:23 pm
                  yeah same! i miss my friends as well ;c
                • goodvibesonly09
                  goodvibesonly09Monday, July 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm
                  My mom says I still have to do homework and less Roblox :( but I see what she means some of us missed a lot of school due to covid so I hope that you guys are still learning some stuff at home to because when we go into our next grade we will be SUPER smart 😎😎
                  • coolvae
                    coolvaeMonday, July 20, 2020 at 1:06 pm
                    we are moving soon in the northern states. Its cold over there!!!
                    • thejackal
                      thejackalWednesday, July 15, 2020 at 7:09 am
                      We are home schooled so covid didn't affect our schooling. I still am doing math, but taking a break while I'm in California.
                    • zaks
                      zaksSaturday, July 4, 2020 at 10:32 am
                      Summer is less fun without friends. I also live in Florida so the summers are super hot. Good thing I have a pool.
                      • wolfieland
                        wolfielandSunday, August 9, 2020 at 2:22 pm
                        i have a pool in my naibor hood but we cant use it bc of the covid :(
                        • kiarathequeen
                          kiarathequeenSunday, August 2, 2020 at 1:28 pm
                          Yep you are right about that
                        • teamhotwheels
                          teamhotwheelsFriday, July 3, 2020 at 1:18 pm
                          I wanna watch movies and chill.
                          • candyqween2010
                            candyqween2010Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 5:39 am
                            every day is the longest day in the world now.. feels like one whole day!