Summer solstice: Facts about the longest day of the year

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:25 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The summer solstice — the official beginning of summer — arrived at 6:09 p.m. in Columbia and Wednesday is the longest day of the year. Across the country, temperatures rose to near-record highs.

The summer solstice — the official beginning of summer — arrives at 6:09 p.m. in Columbia, and Wednesday is the longest day of the year. Here are some facts about the solstice and a look at how people celebrate the day and the season.

Sun facts

Record heat in Northeast

NEW YORK — The official start of summer brought temperatures in the high 90s to the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday, setting records in some spots and getting awfully close in others, with people wilting at graduation ceremonies, students trying to learn in sweltering classrooms and authorities warning folks to check on elderly neighbors.

The hot spell arrived right on time — on the longest day of the year — in a region that's home to some of the nation's most densely populated cities. Record temperatures were recorded at all three New York City-area airports, along with Connecticut's Bradley International Airport and the cities of Burlington, Vt., and Houlton, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Joe Rao wrote an article for MNSBC that not only explains the effects of the summer solstice but actually provides some interesting science fun facts. Here are a few highlights:

  • The summer solstice is when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky. After that, it begins heading south.
  • The solstice signals the summer heat to come, but it is not the hottest day of the year. Because of the Earth's tilt and the angle of the sun, the hottest days will actually be coming in July.
  • The earliest sunrise and the latest sunset do not coincide with solstice. The year's earliest sunrise already happened June 14 and the latest sunset won't be until June 27. Check it out here at the National Weather Service website.

Puppets, pagans and parties

Forbes put together a collection of how people all over the world celebrate the solstice.

  • In Santa Barbara, Calif., they celebrate with a huge parade filled with floats, puppets and more than 100,000 spectators.
  •  In England, the Stonehenge Summer Solstice is a tradition where druids, pagans and people just looking to party gather to celebrate the longest day of the year.
  • And that's just two places. Find out how people celebrate the solstice in New Mexico, Scandinavia and New York.

Summer fun

Not that you couldn't have started on your summer dalliances already, but just in case you were waiting for a certain astronomical phenomenon to kick off your summer, here is a guide to what Columbia has waiting for you compiled by Vox Magazine.

Supervising editor is Frank Russell.

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Glenn Rice June 20, 2012 | 12:52 p.m.

The summer solstice isn't the "official start of summer". That's just the conventional usage on U.S. calendars. There's no governing body that declares the dates that the seasons "officially" begin.

The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, culture, and tradition. In many parts of the world, the summer solstice is known as Midsummer's Day. Meteorologists define summer (in the northern hemisphere) as the whole months of June, July, and August. Colloquially, summer in the U.S. is usually considered to extend from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This "official first day of summer" idea is bogus.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger June 20, 2012 | 1:02 p.m.

Bogus though it may be, Glenn, it's as good an excuse for a party as anything else!

(Report Comment)
Glenn Rice June 20, 2012 | 1:22 p.m.

And as long as I'm ranting about the calendar.... Can we all please start saying "twenty-twelve" instead of "two-thousand-and-twelve"?

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders June 20, 2012 | 5:06 p.m.

If only words had an absolute meaning, then Glenn's rant might have some meat to it. As it stands though, there's no governing body that declares what words "officially" mean, or even how they apply to the ideas they represent.

In other words, the idea behind his rant is bogus.

(I got a good chuckle out of it, though.)

(Report Comment)
mike mentor June 20, 2012 | 5:39 p.m.

After reading Richards post, the two stoners sitting on the couch in mom's basement looked at each other in amazement as, "whoooaaa duuuuude" slipped out of their dry mouths almost subconsciously. Then, as the cartoonish mushroom cloud explosions showed up where there brains used to be, so did the caption, "Mind Blown!".

(Report Comment)

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