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The Buzz

Summer Solstice Means Lots of Daylight Ahead




(Photo courtesy of Michael Fagan)

June is the month of the summer solstice, so any stargazing that occurs won't start until later in the evening, after the sun has set. This is the time of year when daylight is in abundance.

The summer solstice, which marks the start of astronomical summer, occurs when Earth is at its maximum tilt toward the sun, according to the National Weather Service. In the northern hemisphere, the day of the summer solstice is the day we experience the most daylight each year.

This year, the solstice occurs at exactly 10:32 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. On that day, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:29 p.m., giving us 15 hours and 11 minutes of daylight. Compare that to just a month earlier: On May 20, the sun rose at 5:28 a.m. and set at 8:10 p.m., giving us 14 hours and 41 minutes of daylight. A month after the solstice, on July 20, the sun will rise at 5:36 a.m. and set at 8:21 p.m., leaving us with 14 hours and 44 minutes of daylight. 

The inverse of the summer solstice is the winter solstice, which occurs on or around December 21 each year. On the day of the winter solstice, we experience the least amount of daylight each year. On the winter solstice, we will have nine hours and 10 minutes of daylight, with the sun rising at 7:15 a.m. and setting at 4:25 p.m.

The late sunsets we experience each June won't cause us to miss much in the night sky because it's a quiet month for stargazing and planet watching. There are no active meteor showers in June. The next one, the alpha Capricornids, will begin July 3 and last until August 15. The southern delta Aquariids also begin in July, lasting from July 12 to August 23, and our most noteworthy meteor shower, the Perseids, begins July 17, peaking the night of August 11 into August 12, according to the American Meteor Society

The full moon for June is the last of our supermoons this year. Supermoons appear larger in the night sky than other full moons. They occur when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth at the same time the moon is full, according to NASA. The full moon for June will occur at precisely 1:40 p.m. Thursday, June 24, and it will appear full in the sky that night.

June's full moon is sometimes called the strawberry moon because it is the time of year when that fruit typically ripens, according to the Farmers' Almanac. In Europe, June's full moon was traditionally called the rose moon because it is the time of year when the fragrance from rose bushes is at its peak.

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