Longest day

Each year, June 21 marks the o cial start of summer, also known as the summer solstice. Characterized as the longest day of the year, during the summer solstice the sun reaches the highest point in our skies, allowing us to bask in extended daylight hours.
Spring equinox Sun above the equator
The Earth spins around its axis, an imaginary line going right through the planet between the North and South Poles.


News and events — visually

24 hours of daylight in the Arctic Circle
Summer solstice Sun highest in the northern sky

Earth’s orbital motion

Perihelion: About Jan 3: Earth was closest to the sun — 147,166,000 km from the sun.

Earth is tilted 23.5º from the plane of its orbit.
North Pole


Winter soltice Sun lowest in the northern sky
equator South Pole

24 hours of darkness in Antarctic Circle

Aphelion: About July 4: Earth is furthest away from the sun — 152,172,000 kilometres

Fall equinox Sun above the equator

One full orbit around the sun =1 year

Solstice Latin is derived from two

When the axis tilts towards the sun, as it does between June and September, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere but winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Alternatively, when the axis points away from the sun from December to March, the Southern Hemisphere enjoys the direct rays of the sun during their summer months.

Earth’s orbital motion is counter-clockwise around the sun as seen from the north side of the solar system

Without the tilt of the Earth’s axis, we would have no seasons. The sun’s rays would be directly overhead of the equator all year long. Only a slight change would occur as the Earth makes its slightly elliptical orbit around the sun.

words: “Sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it “stands still.”

One of the most famous places in the world where the summer solstice is celebrated is at Stonehenge in the U.K. Thousands of tourists will gather at Stonehenge to see the rising sun. At dawn the central Altar stone aligns with the Slaughter stone, Heel stone and the rising sun to the northeast.

Heel stone


Altar stone



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