Source: Ward's Science Newsletter
Warmer weather and longer days are coming back, and the dawn of another summer season! This year’s summer solstice occurs at 1:16 on June 21st, 2011. At that time, the sun will appear directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, and the day will bring the maximum possible sunshine for the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, at the North Pole, the sun will be visible for a full 24 hours!
Traditionally, the Summer Solstice is celebrated as a time of new beginnings and the beginning of a lush and fruitful season. Typically, it’s a time when the rains begin and the first harvests are ripe. It was a time of celebration, and seen in popular culture such as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
But did you know that during this time of warm weather and sunshine we’re actually farthest away from the sun? The reason for the plentiful sunshine and warmth is actually due to the tilt of Earth’s axis. Our axis is tilted 23.5°, and in the summer time the North Pole is tilted towards the sun. It is actually because of this tilt that we have seasons. On Venus, where the axis is nearly vertical, there is no change in season!
After the Summer Solstice our days will once again begin to shorten little by little, though the summer goes on. Be sure to take your sunscreen and enjoy the longer warmer days of the season!