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The summer solstice arrives this evening! But what is it?

As warm as it has been, it's hard to believe that summer is just now "officially" arriving.  

The summer solstice, which marks the beginning of astronomical summer, arrives this evening at 7:09 pm.  


So what is the summer solstice and how do we know when it occurs?  

The solstice has to do with the angle of the Sun's most direct rays with respect to the position of the Earth.  

As the Earth orbits around the sun, the angle of these direct rays of the Sun move back and forth between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere


To better understand how this works, lets go back to December 21st or the winter solstice.  

It is then that the angle of the Sun's rays are directed to their southern most point on the Earth's surface at about 23 1/2° south of the equator.  

This marks the beginning of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere and also represnts our shortest day of the year.   


After the winter solstice, the rays of the sun begin to slowly shift northward.  

By March 20th, the spring equinox, the Sun's rays are directed at the equator and we experience equal parts day and night as our spring season begins.


The angle of the Sun's most direct rays continue to move north until, you guessed it, the summer solstice which arrives this year at precisely 7:09 PM ET this evening.

It is at that precise moment that the Sun's direct rays will reach their northern most point on the Earth's surface at 23 1/2° north of the equator.  

The word "solstice" is latin and means to stand still.    


It's all down hill from here!  

In a figurative sense, it is, when it comes the Sun's rays.  From this day forward our days will slowly begin to get shorter as the Sun's rays begin their track southward again.  

No worries though, we have plenty of long days left before our summer season comes to a close.  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell


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