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Summer Solstice 2024: Things to Know About the Longest Day of the Year

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Summer is officially here for the Northern Hemisphere as the summer solstice arrives on Thursday, June 20, 2024. This astronomical event marks the longest day of the year, with the maximum number of sunlight hours blessing the northern half of the planet.

The summer solstice has held significant cultural and ceremonial importance for millennia, celebrated by various civilizations as a pivotal moment in the yearly cycle. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s summer solstice and its celestial phenomenon:

When Does the Summer Solstice Occur in 2024?

The precise moment of the summer solstice in 2024 will be at 9:51 pm BST (4:50 pm EDT, 1:50 pm PDT) on June 20th. This is when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted closest towards the Sun, resulting in the longest period of daylight.

In most locations across the UK and US, you can expect over 16 hours of sunlight on this day. The June solstice always falls between the 20th and 22nd and arrives one day earlier than in 2023.

Sunrise and Sunset Times for the Solstice

Here are some key sunrise and sunset times for June 20th in select cities:

London, UK
Sunrise: 4:43 am BST
Sunset: 9:21 pm BST

New York City
Sunrise: 5:25 am EDT
Sunset: 8:31 pm EDT

Austin, Texas
Sunrise: 6:30 am CDT
Sunset: 8:36 pm CDT

Los Angeles
Sunrise: 5:42 am PDT
Sunset: 8:08 pm PDT

Interestingly, while the summer solstice marks the year’s longest day, it doesn’t necessarily feature the earliest sunrise or latest sunset. This is due to the Earth’s elliptical orbit and tilt.

The Science Behind the Solstice

According to the National Solar Observatory, the summer solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted most towards the Sun, with the Sun’s rays striking the Northern Hemisphere most directly. Simultaneously, the Southern Hemisphere experiences its winter solstice as it tilts farthest from the Sun.

This celestial choreography results from the Earth’s approximately 24-degree axial tilt relative to its orbit around the Sun. The tilt, likely caused by ancient asteroid impacts billions of years ago, is responsible for the seasonal differences between hemispheres.

Although the summer solstice brings the longest day, peak temperatures usually lag, occurring in July or August as land and oceans continue releasing absorbed heat.

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