Today’s Spotlight: Summer Solstice

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Welcome to the new edition of the OTC Blog.

Summer is finally here! Well... it is for us in the Northern hemisphere. For Rachel and me, there is nothing better than being outside soaking up the sun! So we thought it would be fitting to blog about the history of Summer Solstice.

The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky (for areas outside of the tropics) and is the day with the longest period of daylight. Within the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or the Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere), there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice.

The summer solstice occurs during summer. This is the June solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the December solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.

Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures and has been marked by festivals and rituals. Traditionally, in many temperate regions (especially in Europe), the summer solstice is seen as the middle of summer and referred to as "midsummer". Today, however, in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of summer.

Although the summer solstice is the longest day of the year for that hemisphere, the dates of the earliest sunrise and latest sunset vary by a few days.This is because Earth orbits the Sun in an ellipse, and its orbital speed varies slightly during the year.

Although the Sun appears at its highest altitude from the viewpoint of an observer in outer space or a terrestrial observer outside tropical latitudes, the highest altitude occurs on a different day for certain locations in the tropics, specifically, those where the Sun is directly overhead (maximum 90 degrees elevation) at the subsolar point. This day occurs twice each year for all locations between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn because the overhead Sun appears to cross a given latitude once before the day of the solstice and once afterward. For example, Lahaina Noon occurs in May and July in Hawaii. See solstice article. For all observers, the apparent position of the noon sun is at its most northerly point on the June solstice and most southerly on the December solstice.

The significance given to the summer solstice has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility. For example, in Sweden, midsummer is one of the year's major holidays when the country closes down as much as during Christmas. In some regions, the summer solstice is seen as the beginning of summer and the end of spring. In other cultural conventions, the solstice is closer to the middle of summer.

Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

Are you ready for summer? On any given day you will see Rachel and me lounging at the beach, gardening in our back yard, or searching for treasure at local flea markets.

What fun activities do you and your loved ones do this time of year?

On behalf of Rachel and myself, we thank you for joining our adventure. Until next time, fare thee well, friends.

*** Data for this blog is listed in Wikipedia

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