Summer Solstice Marks the Start of Summer

sun_lgToday we celebrate Summer Solstice, officially the first day of summer.  Starting at approximately 1:04am EDT on June 21st, the Northern Hemisphere of Earth has its greatest tilt toward the sun, making it the longest day of the year.

To get an idea of what happens (astronomically) on this special day, we looked to Wikipedia for a brief explanation.  We found that June 20-21 is one of two solstices: June 21 is called the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.  Around December 21, the solstices are reversed and winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere.  During the solstice, the rays of the sun directly strike one of the two tropical latitude lines and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky.  When summer occurs in a hemisphere, it is due to that hemisphere receiving more direct rays of the sun than the opposite hemisphere where it is winter.  In winter, the sun’s energy hits the earth at oblique angles and is thus less concentrated.  For several months of the year, one half of the earth receives more direct rays of the sun than the other half, hence creating the four seasons we are fortunate enough to experience.

Worldwide interpretation of the event varies among cultures, but most recognize it with festivals, holidays, and rituals during this time.  To join in on this celebration, we found a few Summer Solstice events in the Southern California area: