This year, the June solstice falls on Thursday, June 21. Enjoy seven cool (or, is it hot?) solstice facts—and see how many you know!
If you ask friends what happens on the summer solstice, they’re likely to get it right. It’s the longest day of the year, meaning this day has the most minutes of sunshine. And the midday Sun is highest up in the sky, or lowest if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.
June Solstice Facts
Alright, let’s get on with some fun facts about the June solstice:
On the solstice, the Sun moves through the sky along its most-curved path. It rises and keeps veering to the right as it passes high overhead—quite different from the laser-straight path the Sun moves along in late March and late September.
The solstice Sun stands directly over the Tropic of Cancer. In fact, that’s how the Tropic of Cancer got its name. It’s the northernmost line connecting all places on Earth where the Sun is ever straight up. That’s because a few thousand years ago, the solstice happened when the Sun was in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
The June solstice is when folks in the Northern Hemisphere see the highest Sun of the year. But did you know that the Sun’s highest point is getting lower and lower over time? That’s because Earth’s tilt is slowly decreasing.
For those at the equator, the solstice is when the Sun is lowest in the sky.
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol “Sun” and stitium “standing.” On the summer solstice, the Sun’s path stops advancing northward each day and “stands” still.
In India, the summer solstice ends the six-month period when spiritual growth is supposedly easiest. Better hurry, you only have a few days left!
On this day, the Sun rises farthest left on the horizon, and sets at its rightmost possible spot. Sunlight strikes places in your home that get illuminated at no other time.
As a bonus, here are two additional Sun-themed facts:
The kind of energy the Sun emits most strongly is not ultraviolet, or gamma rays, or even visible light—it’s actually infra-red. That’s the Sun’s strongest emission, which is the kind we feel as heat.
As for the Sun’s visible emissions, its strongest is green light. That’s why our eyes are maximally sensitive to that color.
With all that, most people only care about one single solstice fact:
“It’s the start of summer!” (Or, winter, if you live below the equator). Enjoy this year’s June solstice!
How do you celebrate the solstice? Let us know in the comments!
Check out our Summer Solstice 2018 page for everything you need to know about the June solstice, including FAQs, folklore, and more!