31 Facts You Never Knew About the Summer Solstice
Did you know that the sun isn’t actually closer to the earth on the summer solstice, and the solstice is not the hottest day of the year? Here are some other facts about the summer solstice you may have been getting wrong all this time.
Summer solstice 2019
The timing of the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year and time zone. This year, the summer solstice will be at 11:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21. The summer solstice happens on the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year.
When it’s summer in the north, it’s winter in the south
During the summer solstice, the North Pole is tilted closest to the sun. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite, so the South Pole is tilted farthest from the sun. That’s why when it’s the summer solstice in the north, it’s the winter solstice in the south. The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is also the same day as the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Prefer the other solstice? Check out these chilling facts you never knew about the winter solstice.
Summer solstice isn’t exclusive to Earth
All the planets in our solar system have summer solstices. Mars’s solstice occurs a few days after Earth’s in June. On Uranus, the summer solstice happens once every 84 years. The next one will occur on October 9, 2069. Each season lasts for 21 years. Talk about a never-ending winter!
One of the Seven Wonders of the World may have been built around it
Stonehenge in England is thought to have been constructed to celebrate the summer solstice. To this day, tourists flock to the ancient site to witness the sunrise right through the center stone during the summer solstice. Stonehenge is just one of many ancient wonders scientists can’t yet explain.
It goes by many different names
In northern Europe, the summer solstice is often referred to as Midsummer; Wiccans and other Neopagan groups call it Litha; and some Christian churches recognize the summer solstice as St. John’s Day to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist.
The bright day has a dark history
Many ancient cultures worshiped the sun and/or had deities or rulers called Sun Kings and practiced ritual human sacrifice, especially at the solstice. The Vikings were said to have hung dead human and animal bodies from trees as an offering to the gods.
Those flower garlands aren’t just for show
According to pagan folklore, evil spirits would appear on the summer solstice. To ward them off, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of these plants was known as “chase devil,” today referred to as St. John’s Wort.
It’s how the Tropic of Cancer got its name
The Tropic of Cancer (the latitude where the sun is directly overhead at noon on the summer solstice) got its name because when the ancients established the day, the sun appeared in the constellation Cancer, reports Discover Magazine.
You can watch the sun “not set”
In northern Iceland, you can perch on a cliff overlooking the sea and physically watch the sun “not set,” says Ryan Connolly, co-founder of Hidden Iceland. “The sun dips all the way down to the horizon, brushes the water then starts to rise again.” Iceland is the only place outside of the Arctic Circle where you can experience this phenomenon, according to Connolly. That phenomenon is just one of the many amazing things that only happen in the summer.