The Buzz

Here comes the sun: Summer solstice means plenty of daylight

The sun setting over a prairie.
(Photo via Shutterstock)

June is a month welcomed with open arms. For many, it's the end of the school year or a time to think about getting out of town for a well-deserved vacation. It also marks both the official and unofficial start of summer. 

Summer unofficially begins June 1, which is the first day of meteorological summer. It officially begins a few weeks later, when the summer solstice occurs on June 21. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer and Earth reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun, according to the National Weather Service. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on or around June 21. This year's solstice will be at 9:57 a.m. June 21.

The day of the summer solstice is also the day in which we experience the most daylight. On June 21, there will be 15 hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds of daylight. While it is day we experience the most daylight, it's just a tiny gain over the days before and after the summer solstice. On the day before the solstice we will experience just one less second of daylight, and the day after the solstice will have just two fewer seconds of daylight. The loss of daylight becomes more substantial as we move through the summer. On July 21, a month after the solstice, there will be 14 hours, 43 minutes and 56 seconds of daylight. By the first day of fall, on Sept. 23, there will be just 12 hours, 7 minutes and 25 seconds of daylight. The day we experience the least amount of daylight is the winter solstice, which will be on Dec. 21. On that day, there will be just 9 hours, 10 minutes and 6 seconds of daylight. 

Once the sun sets, there are a few things to keep an eye out for in the night sky in June. To start the month, Mars will be visible in a star cluster known as the Beehive on the night of June 2, according to National Geographic. The Beehive is a cluster of about 1,000 stars that are located in the constellation Cancer. On June 2, Mars will be visible in the Beehive. You'll need some binoculars or a telescope to get a good look. About an hour after sunset you can find it by looking for the bright light of Venus and then gazing upward for a red-hued star surrounded by other stars. That red-hued star is Mars, and the surrounding stars are the stars of the Beehive.  

The next night will be the full moon for June, with the moon striking its fullest point at 10:43 p.m. June 3. The June full moon is most commonly called the strawberry moon, a seasonal reference many Native tribes used because it is the time of year that early-bearing strawberry plants would produce ripe fruit, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. Other nicknames used by Native groups for the June full moon include the blooming moon, green corn moon and hatching moon. 

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