Today is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere

On Thursday, everyone in the northern half of our planet will experience the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year north of the equator and it is the scientific start of summer.

The Earth has a summer solstice every six months, in June and December. In the run-up to the summer solstice, the sun appears higher in the sky at the same time each day until it reaches its highest point.

After the summer solstice, the days will become shorter. The sun will appear lower in the sky each day until the winter solstice, on December 21st.

According to the National Weather Servicethe summer solstice will occur on thursday at 4:51 p.m. eastern time. this is the moment during the day when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky for the year.

The sun’s height in the sky changes every day because the Earth rotates on an axis that is 23.5 degrees off vertical. This means that, depending on the time of year, the hemispheres lean toward or away from the sun.

This is what gives Earth its seasons: when the northern half of the planet leans toward the sun, it experiences summer; At the same time, the southern half of the planet leans away from the sun and is in winter. It’s a mystery why Earth faces this way, although some astronomers believe its tilt paved the way for life to emerge.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun is greatest. Despite this, temperatures are the warmest of the year usually occurs a few weeks laterin July or August, because it takes a while for the sun’s rays to warm our planet.

Any planet that is tilted will have solstices. According to NASAEvery planet in our solar system has an axial tilt, but some are more pronounced than others.

Venus and Jupiter are tilted only slightly, about 3 degrees, while Mercury is barely tilted at all, at 0.03 degrees. Uranus, on the other hand, is tilted a whopping 97.8 degrees from vertical, causing one of its poles to point directly at the sun at times. This extreme tilt gives it some of the most dramatic seasons in our solar system.

Saturn and Neptune both have an obliquity close to Earth’s. That also applies to Mars, at 25.2 degrees, although the inclination of the red planet changed dramatically over millions of years.

Every year, people around the world celebrate the June solstice with midsummer bonfires, festivals and — for those who live above the Arctic Circle — midnight sun celebrations. On the other side of the world, scientists living in Antarctica hold their annual midwinter celebration to commemorate the longest, darkest night on the continent.

Others travel to ancient ruins, such as Stonehenge in England or the Temple of the Sun in Peru, to greet the solstice as ancient peoples once did.

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