Summer Solstice 2018: First Day of Summer

When is the First Day of Summer 2018?

Sunflower with Bees
Pixabay

The timing of the June solstice—or, summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere—varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year and time zone. See the time and date of the Summer Solstice 2018, as well as solstice facts and FAQs.

When is the Summer Solstice?

This year, the June solstice falls on Thursday, June 21, in all U.S. and Canada time zones, specifically at 6:07 A.M. EDT.

Year Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)
2018 Thursday, June 21
2019 Friday, June 21
2020 Saturday, June 20

What is the Summer Solstice?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice occurs when the Sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky. (In contrast, the June solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky.)

The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (standing), reflecting the fact that on the solstice, the Sun appears to stop moving in the sky as it reaches its northern- or southernmost point. After the solstice, the Sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction.

The timing of the June solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time; it all depends on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. Therefore, the June solstice won’t always occur on the same day. 

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. Because the sun is highest in the sky on this day, you’ll notice that your shadow (at noon) is the shortest it will be all year.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight of the whole year. See our handy sunrise and sunset calculator to figure out how many hours of sunlight you get in your location on the solstice.

At the winter solstice, just the opposite occurs: The Sun is at its southernmost point and is lowest in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.

See 7 fun facts about the June solstice!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the Summer Solstice the First Day of Summer?

A: Yes and no—it depends on whether we’re speaking meteorologically or astronomically. Most meteorologists divide the year into four seasons based on the months and the temperature cycle, which allows them to compare and organize climate data more easily. In this system, summer begins on June 1 and ends on August 31. Therefore, the summer solstice is not considered to be the first day of summer, meteorologically speaking.

Astronomically, however, the first day of summer is said to be when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, which occurs on the summer solstice (June 20–22). Therefore, the summer solstice is considered to be the first day of summer, astronomically speaking.

As an almanac, which is defined as a “calendar of the heavens,” we prefer to follow the astronomical interpretation of the seasons and do consider the first day of summer to coincide with the summer solstice. That being said, you may choose whichever system you like best!

SUnflower field

Q: Why Doesn’t the Summer Solstice Fall on the Same Date Each Year?

A: The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere ranges in date from June 20 to 22. This occurs in part because of the difference between the Gregorian calendar system, which normally has 365 days, and the tropical year (how long it takes Earth to orbit the Sun once), which has about 365.242199 days. To compensate for the missing fraction of days, the Gregorian calendar adds a leap day about every 4 years, which makes the date for summer jump backward. However, the date also changes because of other influences, such as the gravitational pull from the Moon and planets, as well as the slight wobble in Earth’s rotation.

Q: Why isn’t the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—also the hottest day of the year?

A: 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.

Q: What is Midsummer Day (June 24)?

A: Historically, this day was the midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvest. Folks celebrated by feasting, dancing, singing, and preparing for the hot summer days ahead. Read more about the ancient Quarter Days!

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Solstice Fun Facts

The solstice does NOT bring the earliest sunrise

Interestingly, even though the summer solstice if the “longest” day of the year (the most daylight), the earliest sunrises happen about a week prior to the solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The reason for the timing of sunrises is related to the length of day—which is longer than 24 hours in June—and the inclination of the Earth’s rotational axis. Bottom-line, your earliest sunrises start happening before the solstice itself.

See YOUR sunrise times!

The Sun sets more SLOWLY at the solstice

Did you know that the Sun actually sets more slowly around the time of a solstice, in that it takes longer to set below the horizon? This is related to the angle of the setting Sun. The farther the Sun sets from due west along the horizon, the shallower the angle of the setting Sun. (Conversely, it’s faster at or near the equinoxes.) Bottom-line, enjoy those long romantic summertime sunsets at or near the solstice!

See YOUR sunset times!

Seasons on Other Planets

  • Mercury has virtually no tilt (less than ⅓0th of a degree) relative to the plane of its orbit, and therefore does not experience true seasons.
  • Uranus is tilted by almost 98 degrees and has seasons that last 21 years. 

See sunrise/set times for all the planets!

Solstice Traditions

Every year on the summer solstice, thousands of people travel to Wiltshire, England to Stonehenge—a mysterious prehistoric monument. See more about this ancient site.

In Sweden, people traditionally celebrate the beginning of summer by eating the first strawberries of the season. Learn more about Midsummer’s Day.

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There are many northern people like the Swedes who celebrate Midsummer’s Eve, too, dancing around the bonfire on the shortest night of the year. After all, these northern people have merged from some long, dark winters! In Tyrol, Austria, torches and bonfires are lit up on mountainsides.

According to ancient Latvian legend, Midsummer Even (St. John’s Eve) on June 23 is spent awake by the glow of a bonfire and in pursuit of a magical fern flower—said to bring good luck—before cleansing one’s face in the morning dew. Read more about fern folklore.

Summer Solstice Folklore

  • 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.

When does fall start? Click here to see the first date of each season.

Reader Comments

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Why were shepherds in the

Why were shepherds in the fields overnite at the time? Lambing season.

They would have no reason to be out in the fields overnite in December, which even in Palestine can be pretty cold especially at night.

That is always Passover, and

That is always Passover, and it is the day He was crucified. It is the first full moon after the Spring equinox. The sun is directly over the equator at the two equinoxes, and stops at the Tropic lines at the solstices, from the perspective of the ecliptic.

And Ketchican Alaska only 17

And Ketchican Alaska only 17 hours of Sun in June.

My kids used to get

My kids used to get frustrated with me for celebrating May 1 as the start of summer, August 15 as the start of fall, November 1 as the start of Winter, and February 2 as the start of Spring. As many readers have noted, however, the cross-quarter days do make more sense as the starts of seasons, with the mid-points being equinoxes and solstices. (That one should celebrate the start of summer just as the days start to get shorter is simply bizarre!) The Church in her wisdom marked these days as well, drawing on ancient tradition, with the summer solstice around the time of John the Baptist's birth ("he must increase, but I must decrease") followed 6 months later by the celebration of Jesus' birth, and preceded 3 months earlier (vernal equinox) by the Annunciation, which would have announced to Mary the birth 9 months later (Dec 25) of her son. (The Church supposed that the annunciation to Zechariah of John's birth occurred about September 25, i.e., about the time of the high feast of Yom Kippur in the Temple. Of course, Mar 25 (or thereabouts) was also the time for the events of Good Friday/Easter so the Church also understood Jesus to have been conceived about the time of his death and resurrection. May 1 was the feast of Saint Joseph, concluding the summer with the feast of Mary (Aug 15). Winter began with the remembrance of All the Saints who have died in Christ and concluded with the Feast of the Purification of Mary (Feb 2). Yes, the ancients -- from sages to farmers -- were MUCH more aware than most of us are of the cycles of the seasons and what they can teach us and how we can see in them a much greater teaching about things that transcend time.

Wow...That is the most

Wow...That is the most heretical view of Christian teachings I have ever heard! Talk about mixing pagan and Christian views! John was not talking about seasons - he was pointing out that the Son of God was more important than he was (it was very literal). The rest sounds like some kind of dogmatic mumbo jumbo.

No offense intended here, but

No offense intended here, but the entire paradigm of Christianity is filled with mixtues of Paganism and what eventually became Christianity. The early (yet forming) Church loved "dogmatic mumbo jumbo", and yes, they did indeed adjust their liturgical calendar to match up with existing Pagan celebrations, as to make the transition from the Old Religions to the New Religion more acceptable to the masses. I suggest you read up on the tempest that was first century Christianity, and how the failing Roman Empire became involved and heavily influenced things. I would especially suggest you take a close look at the Council of Nicaea, as well as subsequent councils, and how the Bible was put together and edited, and the beliefs of the New Religion were voted on and eventually shaped and defined. You'll find a lot of Greek Paganism in there. It's a fascinating study, and one well worth undertaking.

Kind of like Westeros in Game

Kind of like Westeros in Game of Thrones: "By the old Gods and the New" and even a third one "God of Light"! Yeesh, talk about turbulent times.

It may sound heretical to you

It may sound heretical to you sadly but it is all completely true which shows how well the concept of "take over" worked. Christians had to organize their new religion and make it legit and they had to bury the old religions. One of the ways they used to do this, amongst others, was to take and revamp the pagan calendars. It is not heretical at all, just fact.

Very insightful and informed

Very insightful and informed post. Too bad this is not well known or accepted by traditional Christians. I am Christian, but understand the Church, ran by men, has deceived, killed, and misdirected millions of believers. They melded paganism and the bible and that is the reason so many Christian holidays coincide with much more ancient Pagan holidays and important dates.

I love this article. Summer

I love this article. Summer to me means time with family, a much slower pace, enjoying the out of doors, more excercise outside, bike rides, running and really having a lot of fun! YEAH Summer!

I think you might consider

I think you might consider rephrasing "There is a lag time between sunlight being produced and it actually hitting Earth." The lag time is only about 8 minutes and 19 seconds from when it is produced to when it actually hits earth. You may have chosen your words better, and what I think you meant, by saying that the sun's energy is stored in the earth's atmosphere and oceans, and this stored heat continues to dissipate after the summer solstice to keep the earth warm even until later in the summer. The opposite happens six months later in the winter, as this "lag" period keeps the earth cooler longer, even after the nights get shorter.

A photon 'produced' in the

A photon 'produced' in the sun may bounce around for a thousand years before it breaches and can then begin the short journey here.

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. We have revised our copy to (hopefully) make things clearer.

Thank you, Val Popov-- all

Thank you, Val Popov-- all that you state is true. That said, again, none of these considerations have any bearing whatever upon the Solstices. They are when they are, and they are always the mid-point of the Suns' astronomical cycle.

you mean the solstices are

you mean the solstices are the high and low point respectively, the mid points are the equinoxes.

There are several

There are several interpretations as to when each season begins.
In North America, calendars commonly use the astronomical definition. It is true that various countries, cultures, religions, organizations, and individuals may use definitions other than the astronomical. Because we are an almanac that provides astronomical data, however, that’s why we use the astronomical definition. For our weather predictions, however, we start with a more meteorological definition by providing Nov-March “winter” predictions, Apr-May for spring, June-Aug for summer and Sept/Oct for fall. Hope this is helpful. --Your OFA editors

No, you do not use the

No, you do not use the astronomical definition, as the astronomical definition places the middle of Summer on June 20th and the middle of Winter on the 21st of December this year, with no variance whatsoever. If you're calling June 20th the "beginning of Summer" and December 21st the "Beginning of Winter", I'm really not sure what definition you're using (possibly rolling dice or consulting a magic eight ball), but it most certainly is not the astronomical definition.

Every kid knows that summer

Every kid knows that summer starts when school ends. Therefore, every school district defines summer differently.

Accept that summer is like pornography, as the Supreme Court Justice said, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

How true!

How true!

Okaaay i may off missed it

Okaaay i may off missed it out haaa, but i live in south england, when does our summer start?!

This rain is doing my heading, this time last year it was hot and sunny. xD

Summer in the Northern

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere begins on May 1st. June 20th (or some years 21st, as the solstices vary) is actually Midsummer or the middle of the Summer season, just as the Winter Solstice is Midwinter, or the middle of Winter. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed and our Midsummer is their Midwinter (June), while our Midwinter is their Midsummer (December).

Rest assured, it starts on

Rest assured, it starts on May Day, same as everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. It may be wet, even snowy, that doesn't matter. The Solstice will occur on 20 June regardless of what the local weather is doing. Based on that fact, the Summer season begins on the first of May. We still had snow on the ground this past Spring Equinox, but it was still the Spring Equinox, we didn't try to tell the Haevens they had to hold up on allowing the hours to balance until the weather felt right.

Please explain something to

Please explain something to me. The Summer Solstice or Mid Summer's Day where the sun is at it's highest is surely the middle of summer as the name implies not the start of summer? As the winter solstice is the middle of winter not the start, also the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the middle of spring and autumn respectively. Your seasons appear to be about a month and a half out.

The solstice does indeed

The solstice does indeed herald the beginning of the astronomical season. Which season? It depends on where you live!
At the June solstice:
* Summer starts in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
* The North pole is tipped 23-1/2 degrees toward the Sun.
* The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer at local noon.
At the December solstice:
* Winter starts in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
* The South Pole is tipped 23-1/2 degrees toward the Sun.
* The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at local noon.

Not to sound contrary, but

Not to sound contrary, but this response fails to answer the question of why such an iconic publication as the Old Farmers' Almanac would deliberately choose to mis-name Midsummer and falsely designate it "the beginning of Summer". We understand the differences in the seasonal cycles in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, with our Winter being their Summer and vice verse. That has nothing to do with when Summer begins in either hemisphere.

When I addressed this issue directly to the editorial staff, I was given the same line about the hemispheres, along with "we use the astronomical date". Well, 20 June IS the astronomical Midsummer, there is no other. The Sun reaches its' high point for the year, and the manifestation of the Summer Solstice marks the immediate reversal of the waxing energy of the Sun, as at that point the Sun's energy begins to wane, and the days begin to grow shorter. How anyone could get that this is the "beginning" of Summer has me utterly confused. Show me a logical reason for this and I'll accept it. Otherwise, I would advise getting it right by dropping all this "beginning of Summer on the Solstice" nonsense. Summer as a season began on the first of May-- June 20th this year is the middle of Summer, and Summer will end on the Autumnal Equinox in September.

One would like to believe the Old Farmers' Almanac would be, of all almanacs and calendars, the one we could depend on to be accurate. By designating the Solstices as the "beginning of" Winter and Summer, you're only discrediting your publication.

Midsummer is the pagan name

Midsummer is the pagan name for the summer solstice. it is inaccurate. Same for midwinter. Midwinter is more properly dated as February 1st and called Imbolc and Midsummer is on August 1st and is called Lughnasadh. Misinterpretation of the Pagan names and dates have caused much confusion on this topic. Summer Solstice is called Litha and winter solstice is called Yule. Note these pagan names for the seasonal break ups are only for the northern hemisphere. The entire pagan calendar is as follows: Yule (winter solstice) December 19-22, Imbolc (Midwinter) February 1st, Ostara (Spring Equinox)March 19-22, Beltane (Mid Spring) May 1st, Litha (Summer Solstice) June 19-22, Lughnasadh (Midsummer) August 1st, Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) September 19-22, Samhain (Mid Autumn) October 31st, and bringing us back to Yule.

You are right.

You are right.

Actually, Midsummer and

Actually, Midsummer and Midwinter are not Pagan terms, they're just the old terms for the high point of Summer and the high point of Winter (much as fortnight is an older term once frequently used, but is now mainly considered archaic). The Neo-Pagan revival brought Midsummer and Midwinter into that movement as they were adopted as proper names for the festivals in some traditions, but they aren't particular to Paganism and never were, as they continued to be used long after the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion.

When looking at the whole

When looking at the whole year it is more accurate to think of there being 8 days to celebrate. The soltice's, equinox's a nd the 4 quarter points. Then th changing into and out of each season and when we are experiencing the fullness of each season is more clearly defined. May day is the official end of sping beginning of summer, and the solstice is the hight and middle of summer, August first is then actually the begging of fall and end of summer And in September at the equinox we are in the midst of fall. And so it goes every six weeks e are in the newnes of either the waxing or the waning of the season.

I completely agree with you!!

I completely agree with you!! Thank you for making an educational response.

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