This morning, at 6:07 Eastern Time, the earth hit its Northern Summer Solstice—that is, the point at which the Earth’s Northern Axis tilts closest to the Sun. For us here on Earth (or, at least, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), the sun will be most northerly in the sky—and the day will be the longest of the year. That’s right: starting tomorrow, the days will begin to get shorter. And, while that might be a little depressing for us, our brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere will rejoice; down south, the days will begin to get longer.
At the North Pole—and for countries near the Pole—the day could be endless. In parts of Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia (where the phenomenon is called “White Nights”), the sunlight never goes away at all. Though the sun may dip below the horizon, the sky remains bright all night long—and the sun pops-back-up soon after setting. Near the South Pole, days may pass with little or no sunlight at all. In six months, the shoe will be on the other foot: the North Pole will experience days of darkness and the South will have abundant sunshine.
Also called “Midsummer”, the word “Solstice” comes from the Latin words “Sol” (meaning “Sun”) and “Sistere” (“to stand still”).
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