Summer Solstice

Sun, 2017.

“It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is
cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail
permanently, seriously
without thought”

William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, 1923

Without the Sun there would be no life on Earth. The Sun is a star, a ball of gases that glows, and the brightest object in our sky. It provides warmth and light, enabling us to live the life we are used to. The Sun divides our days into daytime and nighttime and we use its movements through our sky to calculate days and years.

While from our point of view the Sun is moving through our sky, in reality Earth is moving around the Sun. As Earth does not orbit the Sun in an upright but in a slightly tilted position, one of Earth’s poles is sometimes tilted more toward the Sun during the orbit and sometimes tilted away. This axial tilt determines the path the Sun takes through our sky. At the summer solstice the peak of the Sun’s arc across the sky is the highest and in summer the Sun rises and sets farther north in the northern hemisphere.

This year the northern solstice takes place today on June 21 at 10:07 UTC. The June solstice also marks the first day of astronomical summer though meteorological summer already started on the first of June and the June solstice is more often looked at as midsummer in the northern hemisphere. But either way, let’s enjoy the length of day; from now on we’ll get fewer daylight hours!