Summer solstice (June 20 or 21): the longest day of the year, marking the start of summer. Autumnal equinox (about September 23): a day and night of equal duration signaling the start of fall. Winter solstice (December 21 or 22): the shortest day of the year, indicating the start of winter. Spring equinox (about March 19): a day and night of equal duration marking the beginning of spring.
These are the only two times each year when the sun is directly over the equator, thereby causing midnight to follow noon and daybreak to follow sunset. The other times, when the earth is not exactly perpendicular to the sun, there are either shadows or sunlight.
The summer and winter solstices occur once every year, on June 20th and December 21st respectively. But because of the nature of calendars based on the movement of the moon, these astronomical events always happen within a few days of the corresponding lunar phases. So the solstices will usually be observed around 15 days after the new moon in June and the quarter moon in December.
For example, this year the summer solstice was on Thursday, June 20th at 11:44 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The winter solstice will be on Monday, December 21st at 3:17 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Every year, the summer solstice falls between June 20 and 22. Midsummer, the First Day of Summer, the June Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the longest day of the year are all names for the Summer Solstice. The mid-summer point occurs at 12:00 UTC on the 21st.
The midsummer holiday began as a pagan festival honoring the god Thor. It was later adopted by Christians as a holy day marking the beginning of summer and the end of winter. Today, midsummer is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially in Europe and North America. It is believed to be the date when humanity was created by God.
Midsummer is also called Litha in modern English. The word comes from the ancient Germanic languages and means "the bright one." It is now used exclusively to describe the summer solstice.
In English folklore, Midsummer is known as St. John's Eve or Midsummer Night. On this night, it is said that spirits will be around to meet you if you go for a walk or take a trip. You should never speak with a stranger on the first night of midsummer because by doing so, you will have agreed to meet them again on Midsummer's Day.
The two solstices occur in June (20 or 21) and December (20 or 21). (21 or 22). On these days, the Sun's path in the sky is the furthest north or south of the Equator. In one hemisphere, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, while the summer solstice is the longest. The other hemisphere has the opposite pattern.
The equinoxes occur in March (15 or 16) and September (15 or 16). On these days, the Sun's path is exactly perpendicular to the Earth's surface at its position closest to the Sun. All hours of the day and night are of nearly equal length.
Equinoxes and solstices were important religious dates in early civilizations. Modern scientists use them as markers for astronomical events.
In North America, the winter solstice was once celebrated with a feast called Yule. It included foods such as pork, poultry, beef, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and beer or wine. Today, we celebrate Christmas instead. The holiday season ends with New Year's Eve and the start of a new year.
In Europe, the winter solstice was once marked by a festival called Saturnalia. It included gifts, food, alcohol, activities such as whip cracking and mask wearing. Today, we celebrate Chanukah instead. The holiday season ends with New Years Day.
The vernal equinox (about March 21) marks the beginning of spring by making day and night equal in length. Summer solstice (June 20 or 21): the longest day of the year, signaling the beginning of summer. Autumnal equinox (about September 23): a day and night of equal duration that marks the beginning of fall. The winter solstice (December 21) is when day becomes shortest and night lasts the longest.
The four seasons are based on astronomical events that can only happen once every year. At other times of the year, we get different amounts of daylight and dark because of the earth's orbit around the sun. But since these astronomical events only occur once a year, they are what define our seasons elsewhere they would have no effect.
The Equinoxes and Solstices (Summer & Winter) The sun is at its highest position in the sky for any location north of the Tropic of Cancer, and today is the longest day of the year. The winter solstice commemorates the year's shortest day and longest night. Today is the day with the lowest amount of daylight and tonight is the first night of winter.
Equinoxes and solstices are times of equal light and darkness, when the sun is directly over the equator. These events occur each year on either 20 or 21 December and on either 14 or 15 June. At these times the sun is located directly over the center of Earth!
Equinoxes: Every six months the earth goes through a series of changes involving the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Two of these events are called equinoxes. The term "equinoctial" is applied to any astronomical event that takes place at the same time as one of these equinoxes. For example, the equinoxes and solstices are two types of equinoctials. Solstices: The summer and winter solstices are two examples of solar eclipses that can be considered equinoctials. They both take place at midday, but in different parts of the world.
Either of the two times of year when the Sun's apparent path is farthest north or furthest south from the Earth's Equator The summer solstice occurs on June 20 or 21, while the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. At both these times, the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky and due west of the Earth, while it is at its southernmost point in the sky and opposite (east of the Earth) in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word "solstice" comes from the Latin word for "sunrise" or "sunset", meaning that the sun is standing still during a solar eclipse or lunar eclipse or moving slowly across the sky during a solar or lunar standstill. A solar eclipse will not occur at either the summer or winter solstice, but instead around 30 days after each one. Solar and lunar standstills can also happen more than twice per year if the Moon's orbit is elliptical rather than circular. During an eclipse season, it is possible for there to be several consecutive days with no visible moon because the Moon is within Earth's shadow.
The summer and winter solstices are the only times when the entire surface of Earth is exposed to direct sunlight for approximately three weeks. During other periods, part of Earth is illuminated by sunlight and another part is in darkness.
A solstice is a day when the sun shines vertically over a tropic (Cancer or Capricorn) in the afternoon, making that hemisphere's day the longest. From June 21 to December 22, the Southern Hemisphere faces the Sun. Summers occur throughout this period. The winter months begin on December 23.
The exact moment of the annual summer solstice depends on where you are on Earth. It's always around June 20 by most calculations, but it can be as late as July 4 or as early as July 1. Because the planet's axis is not exactly perpendicular to its orbit around the Sun, there is some uncertainty about how much time must elapse before sunrise reaches the same point on the horizon again. This interval varies from year to year and from place to place on Earth. It can be as little as a few days or as many as several months.
For example, if you're in San Francisco and the summer solstice falls on a Sunday, then Monday is the first day of summer. If you're in New York, though, the summer solstice never happens: There are 24 hours of daylight every day from June 21 through December 22.