Summer began in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21, 2013, at 1:04 A.M. (EDT). Here’s more about the first day of summer—the summer solstice—plus, facts, folklore, and some sensational summer photos!
The Summer Solstice
Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21 in North America, depending on your time zone.
The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).
In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. In the winter, just the opposite occurs: The Sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.
The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at "high-noon" on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day then any other. See your local Sun rise and set times—and how the day length changes!
Sensational Summer Slideshow
Celebrate the best of summer! Take a moment to enjoy this beautiful slideshow of reader photos!
Enjoy all readers' photos and submit you own to share with family and friends. See the free Summer ECard Gallery!
Did You Know?
Question: Why isn’t the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, also the hottest day of the year?
Answer: Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans absorb part of the incoming energy from the Sun and store it, releasing it back as heat at various rates. Water is slower to heat (or cool) than air or land. At the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives the most energy (highest intensity) from the Sun due to the angle of sunlight and day length. However, the land and oceans are still relatively cool, due to spring’s temperatures, so the maximum heating effect on air temperature is not felt just yet. Eventually, the land and, especially, oceans will release stored heat from the summer solstice back into the atmosphere. This usually results in the year’s hottest temperatures appearing in late July, August, or later, depending on latitude and other factors. This effect is called seasonal temperature lag.
Signs of Summer
Everyone loves summer! Filled with trips to the beach, sunny skies, and lazy days, summer is the time of year when the weather gets its warmest.
What are signs of summer? Temperatures rise. The water levels in ponds, lakes, and rivers drop. Lightning bugs brighten the night sky. Nature’s efforts in the spring to fully bloom prove fruitful as the green leaves of various trees shake and rattle in the cool summer breezes and flowers grace our gardens.
It’s also the time of year that is notorious for all sorts of bothersome pests. Mosquitoes, horseflies, and ticks attack our arms and legs, while squirrels, slugs, and innumerable numbers of bugs attack our gardens. See our Pests & Problems page.
You can track when the seasons change by recording animal behaviors and the way that the plants grow. Listen to the new sounds and observe what you hear and see.
What does summer mean to you? Share your comment below!
Summer Folklore and Verse
Deep snow in winter, tall grain in summer.–Estonian proverb
When the summer birds take their flight, goes the summer with them.
If it rains on Midsummer's Eve, the filbert crops will be spoiled.–Unknown
One swallow never made a summer.
Easterly winds from May 19 to the 21 indicate a dry summer.
If there are many falling stars during a clear summer evening, expect thunder. If there are none, expect fine weather.