Summer Solstice 2011

Richard

So, here in Salt Lake City we had a record June rain yesterday of over an inch. Today, the high temperature will be in the low 70s (fahrenheit). And summer begins tomorrow!?!

Yes, the summer solstice occurs at 11:16 am, MDT, on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011. This is the astronomical beginning of summer, when the mid-day sun is at its highest in the sky. The days are longest, the nights shortest. The Sun rises at its farthest point north of east and sets at its farthest point north of west.

June solstice at midday

June solstice at midday

There is a latitude line on the Earth called the ‘arctic circle.’ This line is located about 23.5 degrees south of the north pole. On the solstice, the sun will not set for observers on the arctic circle. The Sun will rise higher and higher until midday, then sink lower and lower toward the horizon, but will not set. It will appear to ‘bounce’ off the horizon at midnight, then start climbing again. Points north of this line have been experiencing 24-hour-daytime days for some number of days, with the number of days increasing the farther north you go. At the North Pole, there has been 24 hours of daylight since the equinox in March.

In the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed. The June solstice is still on the 21st. The Sun is still rising and setting in the northeast and northwest, respectively and is still at its farthest point north at midday. But this mark the beginning of winter, when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky and the day is its shortest, the night its longest.

Summer solstice from South Africa

June solstice from South Africa

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