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article imageWelcome to Summer — The solstice is celebrated worldwide

By Karen Graham     Jun 21, 2019 in World
Summer officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere today (June 21), marking the longest day, the shortest night and the beginning of summer. In some regions, especially in Europe, this period of time is known as "Midsummer."
The summer solstice (or estival solstice), is also known as midsummer in temperate regions and occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). However, and this may seem strange, the solstice happens worldwide at the same time.
The exact moment of the solstice was 10:54 a.m CDT today. At that exact moment, the Earth's North Pole was tilted toward the sun 23.44 degrees. With the sun's high arc across the sky, daylight will last 15 hours and 1 minute, making it the longest day of the year. In the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere) - there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice.
The summer solstice always occurs between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 20 and 22 in the Southern Hemisphere. So in the Southern Hemisphere, today is the start of the winter solstice.
Inija Trinkuniene  high priestess of Lithuania's Romuva neo-pagan community  presides over a fi...
Inija Trinkuniene, high priestess of Lithuania's Romuva neo-pagan community, presides over a fire ritual marking the summer solstice in Vilnius
Petras Malukas, AFP
Starting on Saturday, the days will get shorter.
Now keep in mind there are still 24 hours in a day, but what we are referring to is the length of daylight. Starting on June 22, each day will appear to get shorter by seconds, and the further north you go, the shorter the hours of daylight will become.
While today may be the longest day of the year, it won't necessarily be the hottest day this summer. The hottest days usually come about six weeks after the summer solstice.
It is during these few weeks that the atmosphere and oceans in the Northern Hemisphere continue to absorb -- and slowly release -- energy from the sun, according to the National Weather Service.
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun.
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun.
Oh, and just so you know - Yes, you can stand an egg on its end on the day of the solstice. However, if you have a great deal of patience, you can do this trick any day of the year. Actually, it is a myth that there is a special gravitational balance on solstice days.
Solstice in ancient cultures
Different cultural, and religious traditions are associated with the solstices. The summer solstice was an important marker used by many neolithic people as a time to plant crops. In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice corresponded with the rise of the Nile River. People would then know to expect flooding to occur.
In Northern Europe, the summer solstice was called Midsummer, and Wiccans and other Neopagan groups call it Litha. Some Christian churches commemorate the summer solstice as St. John’s Day to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist.
Perhaps one of the most enduring monuments associated with the solstice is Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in southwest England. The huge prehistoric megalithic monument was built in stages, from around 3,000 BC to 2,300 BC.
Druids and midsummer revelers gather in the thousands on the day of the summer solstices to witness the sun rising through the stones. Some revelers hug the carved bluestones while others do yoga together,. Some people lay their hands together on the stones and chant. The summer solstice is the only time in the year when the precious stones can be touched.
There are many songs associated with summer, depending on how young or old you might be, but one of this journalist's favorite summer songs is "Aquarius - Let the sunshine in."
More about summer palace, Solstice, June 21, Stonehenge, seasons
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