Summer Solstice: When is Your Longest Day of the Year?

{ It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases – that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know.} (Surat Yunus 10:5).

The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours. It’s the peak of the summer season astronomically, however, not the hottest period of summer meteorologically because of geographical and climatological reasons.

The summer solstice in 2021 for the Northern Hemisphere of Planet Earth will be on 11:31 PM on Sunday, June 20.

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In the north hemisphere, where it is the longest day of the year in terms of daylight, the June Solstice is also called the Summer Solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the shortest day of the year and is known as the Winter Solstice.

How much daylight do we see? And why is the longest day not the hottest day of the year? Below are five questions (and answers) that explain the summer solstice in detail.

1. What makes the days so long?

On the June solstice, the Earth’s North Pole is at its maximum tilt toward the sun. At this time, the sun appears directly overhead at 23.5 degrees north latitude, along the Tropic of Cancer.

Since the sun’s direct rays reach their northernmost point from Earth’s equator, we see the sun follow its longest and highest path across the southern sky.

This means the shadow you cast at local solar noon will be the shortest of the year.

The photo beneath shows how changes in Earth’s position around the sun affect the amount of light in each hemisphere, as well as the angle of sunlight reaching the ground.

Summer Solstice: When is Your Longest Day of the Year? - About Islam

Seasons and Ecliptic Simulator

2. How long is the sun up where I live?

The exact amount of daylight we see on the solstice depends entirely on latitude. More southern locations get less daylight.

The height of the summer sun is the main reason why it’s so easy to get sunburn this time of year. So always remember to check the UV index and lather on the sunscreen when outdoors.

Summer Solstice: When is Your Longest Day of the Year? - About Islam

3. Where does the sun set along the horizon?

If you’re thinking about photographing the solstice sunset, look to the northwest. On the June solstice, all locations on Earth (outside the polar circles) see the sun rise and set at its northernmost point along the horizon.

The higher your latitude, the closer sunrise and sunset appear to due north on a compass.

Around the Arctic Circle, the location of sunrise and sunset start to converge in the northern sky, until eventually the sun never sinks below the horizon. Hence, the appearance of the midnight sun.

4. Is this really longest twilight of the year? 

Yes. Because summer solstice features the shortest night of the year, the sun also doesn’t drop as far below the horizon.

Around the solstice, the sun’s apparent path on the celestial sphere tends to curve below the horizon instead of dropping quickly, causing longer periods of twilight both before sunrise and after sunset.

The longer twilight is less noticeable at lower latitudes.

However, as one moves farther from the equator, the sun crosses the horizon at such a shallow angle that the sky remains illuminated much longer than at other times of the year.

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