Summer Solstice 2013

Today is the June Solstice, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially began at 5:04 UTC, which is 1:04 Eastern Daylight Time.

Astronomical seasons are the result of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, a 23.5° angle. Today, as summer begins, the northern half of our planet is slanted toward the sun.  This position allows the northern hemisphere to receive the sun’s energy at a more direct angle, warming the entire region.

The summer solstice is often called the “longest day of the year”.  This, however, is a bit of a misnomer as one day always contains twenty-four hours.  Nonetheless, today is the day with the longest duration of daylight. Since the winter solstice in December, the sun – in its apparent seasonal journey across the sky – has been making its way north. Reaching its northern-most position at the Tropic of Cancer today, it stopped.  This phenomenon is where today’s event takes its name. Solstice is a word derived from Latin meaning, “sun stands still”.

SeasonsImage Credit: NASA

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.