This year, June 21 marks the summer solstice, the longest day as well as the shortest night of the year, and the beginning of summer in Northern Hemisphere. According to astronomers, summer was officially here at 12:38 p.m. Sunday.
Researchers explained that during summer solstice the North Pole is tilted to the maximum towards the sun. As a result, on June 21 (12:38 p.m.) sun-rays are able to hit the northernmost point from the equator. So, on that day we see the sun making its longest journey on the daytime skies.
But the amount of daylight states experience in the U.S. varies a lot depending on latitude. For instance, some may experience 14 hours of daylight like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Denver, others may enjoy 15 hours like New York, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis, while Alaska breaks any record with nearly 22 hours of daylight on June 21.
But in the South, though states may experience less daylight, the sun is still at its highest point in the sky. For example, though Miami enjoyed only 13 hours of daylight on June 21, the sun nearly hit 90 degrees above the horizons on that day.
Moreover, during summer solstices, regardless of your location you can see the sun going up and down at the northernmost point of the horizon. Astronomers said that the higher your latitude, the more northern the sun appears.
But in the Arctic, on June 21 the sun is visible for 24 hours triggering the so called midnight sun.
Though, days become shorter after the summer solstice, they also bring increased heat because locations in the Northern Hemisphere gradually build up heat after that moment. The main reason for the heat lag is oceans that take more time to heat up than the land.
According to the National Climatic Data Center, the hottest summer days Americans experience are in mid to late July except for the desert areas in the Southwest which see dog days closer to the solstice and the West Coast that experiences its summer heat peaks in August. Meteorologists explain that heat peaks are greatly influenced by vicinity to water and wind directions.
However, starting June 21 expect days to get shorter every passing day by a few seconds. Though you may not feel it directly, this mechanism will lead to the summer’s end and beginning of fall. Or as one site poetically put it: “Even in summer’s beginning, we find the seeds of summer’s end.” But until that moment there are plenty of evenings to enjoy on an outdoor barbecue. So, chillax!
Image Source: Green Town Joplin