School may be out for the summer, but the astronomical start of the warm season will not be until June 21, 2022. Called summer solstice, it is the day when the North Pole is most inclined towards the Sun. This allows Northern Hemisphere residents to enjoy the longest day of the year. Those in the Southern Hemisphere will mark the start of winter with the year’s shortest day.
Summer solstice celebrations extend throughout the day. But the solstice technically occurs at a single point in time — when the Sun is right over the Tropic of Cancer, its farthest northerly position in the sky. In 2022, this will be at 5:14 am EST (2:14 am PST).
While all countries north of the equator will enjoy at least 12 hours of daylight on June 21, some will get a lot more. The residents of New York, NY, will bask in over 15 hours of sunshine, while those in London, UK, will enjoy over 18 hours. Sweden’s capital Stockholm will experience 21 hours of light, while the lucky locals in areas around the Arctic Circle will enjoy a 24-hour day.
The summer solstice is observed with many fun events. One of the oldest and most cherished celebrations is at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. The Neolithic stone circle — built in three phases between 3000 BC and 1600 BC — is designed to align with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. Thousands of visitors from around the world flock to the historic site during the solstice to witness the magical sight of the Sun rising above the stones.
Sweden’s Midsummer festival is celebrated with family gatherings and traditional dances around a 20-foot-tall Maypole. The most popular is the frog dance, which involves hopping around the pole while singing the tune of a famous Swedish song Små grodorna (The little frogs). Also popular is weaving fresh flowers into wreaths and crowns. The ancient custom is believed to harness nature’s magic to ensure good health for the year.
Alaska marks the June solstice over several days with various events, including festivals and marathons. The most unusual is the Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks. The fun tradition dates back 1906 and entails playing baseball from 10:30 pm to about 1:30 am the following day with no artificial light.
Happy Summer Solstice!
Resources: Earthsky. org, farmersalmanac.com bortonoverseas.com,mlb.com,english-heritage.org.uk