Summer Solstice 2013

Robert Bigelow
solstice

Courtesy of timeanddate.com

Sun worshipers rejoice! Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer officially begins on Thursday, June 20 at 11:04 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. This is the Summer Solstice, the date when the Sun rises at its most northeasterly point along the horizon, is highest in the sky at mid-day, and sets at its most northwesterly point. The word “solstice” means, “Sun standing still.” For a few days before and after the solstice, the location of the Sun along the horizon at sunrise and sunset will change very little, and daylight will last about 15 hours. By the end of the month, observers will begin noticing that the Sun sets a little farther south each evening, and rises a little farther south each morning. This will continue until the Sun rises and sets at its most southeasterly and southwesterly points on the winter solstice on December 21.

While the solstice is commonly called the longest day of the year, it is not the date of earliest sunrise or latest sunset. The earliest sunrise occurs about a week before the solstice and the latest sunset about a week after. This results from a combination of Earth’s changing speed as it orbits the Sun and the tilt of its axis.

As Earth orbits the Sun each year, the Summer Solstice marks the position of Earth where the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most in the direction of the Sun, and the Southern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the Sun. For inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere this is the beginning of winter.

“Reason for the Seasons” will be the topic in Clark Planetarium’s Windows to the Universe show on Thursday June 20, so mark your calendars to attend.

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10 thoughts on “Summer Solstice 2013

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  6. Joni,

    In June, the full moon occurs on June 23 at 5:32 a.m. MDT. That happens only 14 minutes after lunar perigee, the point where the Moon is closest to Earth during its monthly orbit. That makes it the closest full moon during 2013. Some have designated the nearest full moon during a calendar year as a “supermoon”. What does a “supermoon” mean for Earth? Not much other than larger than normal tides for several days. While the Moon will appear slightly bigger and brighter in the sky, it is only 7% closer than average. So, the subtle increase in apparent size and brightness will not really be noticeable.

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