June 20 is Summer Solstice
The summer solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The timing of the summer solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator.
In 2017, summer begins with the solstice on June 20 at 11:24 pm CDT.
The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).
In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.
This summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Find out how many hours of sunlight you get in your area with this Sunrise and sunset calculator.
Since ancient times people have kept track of the length of days so they could understand where they were in the year. On the longest day they knew that summer was halfway over. Understanding the time of year was very important to ancient farmers, just as it is to farmers today. Seeds needed to be planted at the right time. Crops from seed sown too early would be destroyed by bad weather. Crops planted too late would not have time to mature for harvest.
Today Oklahoma farmers have very sophisticated tools for tracking length of days, soil temperature and moisture, rainfall and many other factors to help determine exactly the best time to plant, fertilize, etc. Oklahoma Mesonet provides volumes of useful information to Oklahoma farmers on its AgWeather site.
- Keep a journal for the month of June showing how the length of days affects your activities.
- Pretend you are an ancient farmer on the longest day of the year. What are your thoughts?