Summer solstice, the day with the longest amount of sunlight this year is today – Wednesday, June 20. Summer solstice is significant for scientists and religions alike, it’s a day tied to solar phenomena and community celebrations.
Carolyn Sumners, vice president of astronomy and the physical sciences at the Houston Museum of Natural Science provides a scientific explanation of summer solstice on Chron.com. “The earth is always tilted on its axis at 23½ degrees,” says Sumners. It orbits around the sun in that position – and in the Northern Hemisphere, when that tilt leans most toward the sun it’s the summer solstice.
The historical significance of summer solstice goes far back. Ancient Egyptians would wait for the Nile’s flooding season beginning summer solstice, for the floods provided fertile soil for farming. The Incas began the tradition of Inti Raymi, the multiday Festival of the Sun, which is still celebrated by tourists and natives of South America every year on June 24 (around the time of summer solstice). Even the Olympic Games in Greece were specifically scheduled to commence once summer solstice ended.
Today, summer solstice is still celebrated around the world. In the UK, thousands gather at Stonehenge to witness the solstice sunrise –the moment when the sun completely aligns with the outer Heel Stone.
In the United States, a simple Google search of “summer solstice festival (state name)” will show a list of cities and towns celebrating this day with parades, festivals, music, games and athletic events.
To all of us at Coolibar, it’s a day to remind others about healthy sunny living. We, like most, love to be outdoors, and summer solstice is a day to celebrate. While the sun is extra strong, for an extra long time, remember to be SunAWARE, and keep your UPF 50 clothing, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen on hand.
Many people like to celebrate summer with a family barbecue, a trip to the beach or a long bike ride. How do you to take advantage of the longest, most sun filled day of the year? Let us know what summer means to you by commenting below!