Whathappens duringthe summer solstice?
There are two solstices each year – one in the winter and one in the summer. The summer solstice occurswhen thetilt of Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun and is directly above the Tropic of Cancer.
Traditionally, the summer solstice period fell between the planting and harvesting of crops, leaving people who worked the land time to relax. This is why June becamethe traditional month for weddings.
It might seem like a day to celebrate, but it actually signals the moment thesun’s path stops moving northward in the sky, and thestart ofdays becoming steadily shorter as the slow march towards winter begins.
However, we won’t notice the days becoming shorter for a while.The shortest day of the year isn’t until Monday, December 21,known as the winter solstice; it lasts for 7 hours and 50minutesin Britain, which is 8 hours, 48minutes shorter than the June solstice.
At the winter solstice, the Earth’s axis is tilted furthest away from the sun directly over the Tropic of Capricornbringing only a few hours of daylight.
In the southern hemisphere the dates of the two solstices are reversed. The winter solsticeoccurs on the same day in June and the summer solstice the same day in December.
The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’. Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to describe the event.
Astrologers say the sun seems to ‘stand still’ at the point on the horizon where itappears to rise and set, before moving off in thereverse direction.