Summer Solstice
Climate and Weather

The Longest Day of the Year: The Summer Solstice 2023

What is the Summer Solstice?

Have you ever wondered why June 21 is often referred to as the longest day of the year? This is due to an event known as the summer solstice, or midsummer. On this day, the tilt of the Earth’s North Pole is at its maximum towards the Sun. This orientation results in extended daylight hours, especially in the northern half of the globe. This occurrence is far from new; it’s been acknowledged and celebrated by various cultures for thousands of years​.
Summer Solstice

The Science Behind the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is brought about by the Earth’s axial tilt, which is approximately 23.5 degrees off vertical. This inclination, coupled with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, makes the Sun appear to shift in the sky over the course of the year. During the summer solstice, the Earth’s tilt aligns directly towards the Sun, making the Sun reach its zenith in the sky at midday in the Northern Hemisphere. Moreover, the farther north you go, the longer the day becomes​​.

Summer Solstice in the Philippines

Even though the Philippines is near the equator, it also witnesses the summer solstice. On June 21, 2023, Filipinos will experience the longest daytime and shortest nighttime of the year at 5:14 p.m local time​2​. This signifies that the country will also see a lengthier span of daylight on this day than any other day of the year. Nonetheless, the alteration in daylight duration isn’t as pronounced as it is in countries situated further from the equator.

Worldwide Cultural Traditions

Despite the absence of unique traditions in the Philippines, summer solstice is celebrated with enthusiasm in various cultures worldwide. For instance, the ancient Egyptians cleverly designed the Great Pyramids to frame the setting sun between two pyramids when observed from the Sphinx on the summer solstice. In a similar vein, in a once-buried Mayan city in Guatemala, archaeologists found an astronomical observatory where the structures were planned to align with the sun during the solstices​​.

One of the most renowned sites for observing the solstice is Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. For roughly 5,000 years, spectators in the heart of the standing stones have seen the summer solstice sunrise over the Heel Stone, located just outside the primary circle of Stonehenge​.
In more recent times, unique celebrations still take place. In Iceland, which sits just below the Arctic Circle, the Secret Solstice Music Festival utilizes three consecutive days of midnight sun. Similarly, for over a century, Fairbanks, Alaska, has been enjoying the solstice with a late-night baseball game that often extends into the wee hours of the morning​​.

So, as we anticipate the longest day of the year, whether you’re in the Philippines or elsewhere, let the summer solstice be a gentle reminder of our bond with the Sun, the Earth, and the natural rhythms of the world.

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