Brain Post: 8 Facts About Summer Solstice

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Stonhenge and a summer solstice celebration
Stonehenge and a summer solstice celebration with paragliders and 30,000 people

Today, June 20th, 2019, is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  This means that the start of winter is only 6 months away, December 21st, 2020, and daylight today is 5h28m longer than then.  Ski season is even closer as it usually starts in November.

Of course, in the Southern Hemisphere, today is the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter.  Southern Hemisphere skiing and riding has already begun.

Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice in Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice in Southern Hemisphere


1.  This year the summer solstice actually occurs on Saturday, 20 June 2020, at 14:43 in South Lake Tahoe. It marks the time at which the sun’s rays are at zenith (directly overhead) at 23.5 degrees north latitude, better known as the Tropic of Cancer.  In terms of daylight, this day is 5 hours, 28 minutes longer than on December Solstice. In most locations north of Equator, the longest day of the year is around this date.

Sunrise and sunset times for South Lake Tahoe, June 20th, 2020. Credit:

2.  The sun is above the horizon for 14 hours, 54 minutes, and 6 seconds.

3.  Sunrise occurs at 5:34 am and sunset at 8:28 pm.

Mad Al hangs with the Druids at Stonehenge during summer solstice today. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Mad Al hangs with the Druids at Stonehenge during summer solstice today. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

4. The noontime (1:01 pm) sun angle reaches its maximum height at 74.5º above the horizon (compared to only 27.7º above the horizon on Dec. 21)

5.  The sun rises at its northeasternmost point and sets at its northwesternmost point all year (58º and 302º from due north, respectively)

6.  Twilight lasts longer than at any other time of year

Stonehendge on the Summer Solstice
Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice

7.  Due to seasonal lag, average temperatures in Lake Tahoe will continue to increase until late July – even as the daylight period gradually diminishes. Lake Tahoe’s earliest sunrise already occurred on June 13th. But for those of you wishing to enjoy dusk extend past 9 pm, rest assured: we still have another week before the sun starts disappearing earlier from the sky

8.  Stonehenge:  

– Thousands of people annually celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

– At sunrise at Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, the rising sun appears behind one of the main stones, creating the illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone.

– The site was closed for 16 years after rioting broke out between police and revelers for several years at solstice gatherings. Stonehenge was re-opened to the public on Solstice in 2000.

Seasons from space
Seasons from space

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