Even though most kids have been on summer break for weeks and the temperatures have already started heating up in most areas of the country, summer didn’t officially start until today.
The Summer Solstice, otherwise known as the official moment when the summer season begins, occurs on Friday, June 21 at 11:54 a.m., making Friday the longest day of the year, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
During that minute, the sun will have reached its highest and northernmost point in the sky, meaning Earth will receive more sunlight than on any other day.
So why does this happen? Throughout the year, the earth tilts on its axis at a diagonal away from or toward the sun, causing the change in seasons. Following that minute, the Northern hemisphere begins to tilt toward the sun, eventually leading to shorter days and cooler temperatures until the fall equinox, when day and night are exactly the same length. It also causes a shift in the jet stream, which affects weather patterns.
Solstices occur twice a year, one in the winter and once in the summer, while the equinoxes occur once in the spring and once in the fall. During an equinox, the sun passes directly over the equator, while during a solstice, it is the furthest distance away.
For many, the longest day of the year is complete with a day at the beach or a later dinner to soak up all of the sunlight, but some charitable organizations take advantage of the extra bright hours to raise awareness for their cause.
In June, the Alzheimer’s Association celebrates “The Longest Day” with fundraisers around the country, including dance marathons, tennis tournaments, and outdoor cookouts or parties. “Together, the strength of our light will outshine the darkness of Alzheimer’s,” the website reads.
Rising country star Jay Allen is celebrating the summer solstice by soaking up the sun on both coasts, beginning with a performance of his hit song “Blank Stares” in Virginia Beach in honor of his mom, Sherry Rich, who passed away from Alzheimer’s earlier this year. Allen will then hop on a plane to San Diego to perform the same song at 7 p.m.