There’s one day of the year that outshines the rest in terms of sunshine.
We’re talking about the summer solstice.
Yes, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. That’s pretty common knowledge. But there’s a lot more to it than that. And it’s all pretty fascinating!
So, put on your shades, because we’re about to let the sunshine in with these 9 summer solstice fun facts.
1. Don’t save the date
The sun is a wee bit commitment-shy when it comes to the summer solstice. You see, it doesn’t fall on a set date. Instead, this sunny celebration takes place when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator.
Since this detail depends on the earth’s current orbit, the date of the summer solstice changes from year to year.
2. Getting curvy
The sun changes up its path on the summer solstice. It veers away from the straight path it follows near the spring and fall equinoxes ― the halfway points between the summer and winter solstices. Our powerful luminary instead travels in a curved path across the sky. As a result, the sun appears to rise and veer to the right during its passage.
3. Naming Rights
You could accurately say that the summer solstice gave the Tropic of Cancer its name. Back in the day (a few thousands years ago), the solstice was celebrated when the sun found itself in the Cancer constellation. And the constellation dubbed “Cancer” was the inspiration for naming the Tropic of Cancer. To get technical, the Tropic of Cancer is the northernmost line connecting all places on Earth where the sun is ever straight overhead.
4. Equal opportunity
We’re not alone in the universe ― when it comes to the summer solstice, that is. Every planet in our solar system has one. The difference is the frequency and timing of each. Uranus, for example, only experiences summer solstice once every 84 years. That’s a good reason to throw a massive party!
5. No shadows in sight
Nope, we’re not referring to vampires. At noon on the summer solstice, not a single earthly form in the Tropic of Cancer has a shadow. This phenomenon occurs because at this particular time, the sun sits directly overhead at a 90-degree angle to the Earth.
6. Talk about inspiration…
Stonehenge is much more than stones hastily assembled in a circular configuration. In fact, this world-famous landmark might just have been inspired by the summer solstice. Sun rays line up perfectly with the stones on this occasion (and the winter solstice) each year. And naturally, Stonehenge is even more popular on the solstice than on the average day, attracting masses of sunshine enthusiasts.
7. A fiery world record
The summer solstice is celebrated internationally, although it goes by different names across different countries. The occasion is called “Midsummer” in Scandinavia. In 2016, Norwegians in Ålesund set a world record for the tallest bonfire when they built a fiery spectacle that reached 155.5-feet tall. While these Norwegians only held the record until 2019, their blaze of glory still burns just as brightly.
8. At a standstill
We now know that the Tropic of Cancer got its name from the summer solstice. But how did the solstice itself get named?
The path of the sun goes through noticeable changes throughout the majority of the year. It looks higher or lower depending on the day. On the summer solstice and the days surrounding it, however, the sun doesn’t appear to change its relative position in the sky.
The word “solstice” is a combination of two Latin words:
“Sol” ― Meaning “sun”
“Sistere” ― Meaning “to stand still”
Put these words together and, voila, you have “solstice!”
9. Where in the world?
Since the summer solstice affects different places around the world in different ways, it’s fitting that each place celebrates it a bit differently. Tributes to the summer solstice include:
- Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada ― This cultural event celebrates the solstice traditions of the First Nations people, including a traditional powwow.
- Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland ― Ranking among the world’s worst-kept secrets, this festival had already attracted 8,000 attendees by its very first year, in 2014. And it’s no wonder, with music headliners playing inside of a glacier and a heated lagoon available to enjoy.
- Mountaintop bonfires in Tyrol, Austria ― Carrying on a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, locals light bonfires set atop mountains as darkness falls, transforming the soaring mountain tops into beacons.
- Midsommar Festivals in Stockholm, Sweden ― Celebrated across all of Sweden, this collection of events tends to be informal, with Swedes partake in traditional dances and adorn Maypoles with all manner of finery.
Put all that sunshine to good use
Picture this: your roof collecting loads of sunshine on future summer solstices and powering your home with it. Well, guess what? This daydream can become a reality, thanks to a solar energy system from ADT Solar!
One of our knowledgeable Solar Energy Specialists can explain how to make the sun work for you. You don’t even have to follow the sun to find them. Simply contact them right here:Schedule Your Free Solar Consultation