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First Official Day of Summer + Longest Day of the Year = Celebrate Sunshine

By Beth Clark • June 21, 2018

The Science-y Side of the Solstice

Parades, feasts, and festivals are an integral part of the overall picture, but technically speaking, the summer solstice is more scientific than ritualistic. Basics first: The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because on the solstice, the sun appears to...stand still.

We all know the Earth orbits the sun on a tilted axis (if you didn't, you do now), so from March to September, the Northern Hemisphere gets more direct sun exposure than the Southern Hemisphere. (Don't worry, it gets a turn during the other six months.) On June 21, the North Pole is tilted toward the sun at a 23.4° angle, and the solstice occurs the moment the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (23°7' north latitude), which is 10:07 Coordinated Universal Time in 2018. (If UTC calculation isn't your thing, that's 3:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time.) At the Arctic Circle, the sun stays up for 24 hours on the solstice, and in Alaska, it's celebrated with a baseball game called the Midnight Sun Game.

According to history, Galileo was forced by the Inquisition to recant his declaration that the Earth revolves around the sun in 1633...on the summer solstice, of all days. A dark moment in science ultimately came to pass, thankfully. For another mind-bender, consider that the summer solstice occurs when Earth is farthest from the sun, not closest to it.

Solstice Reads:

And Now for the Fun Side of the Solstice

Solstice celebrations have spanned generations, religions, cultures, and geography for centuries, and involve food, drink, music, dance, feasts, meditation, bonfires, costumes (or lack thereof), chanting, praying, Stonehenge, vortexes, and Pagan and Wiccan rituals. Of course, ThriftBooks has some outstanding reads available on the subject at fantastic prices.

Stonehenge: The Secret of the Solstice by Terence Meaden

Awe-inspiring and beautiful in its simplicity, the purpose of Stonehenge remains today for all to see. It stands as a vibrant symbol of the religious faith of a distant age. Exciting new information throws fresh light on the lost beliefs of our Neolithic forebears, and beautiful photographs and drawings will provoke debate and inspire people to test the theory for themselves.

The Summer Solstice by John Matthews

The Summer Solstice brings together myths, legends, and ceremonies from around the world that honor the sun as the source of human life. The Summer Solstice shows you how to connect to the past and appreciate the present through activities and simple celebrations to enjoy with family and friends. You'll find meditations and recipes, instructions for a Midsummer feast and more to help you celebrate.

Summer Solstice: An Anthology (Short Stories from the Worlds of KP Novels) by Lincoln Cole

There are over 25 stories in this anthology telling stories in and around their published books, and whether you are an old fan or just want to give some new authors a try, then this is the collection for you.

However you choose to celebrate the summer solstice, enjoy the day and don't forget your sunscreen!

Read more by Beth Clark

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