Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or not, today’s rare events are sure to tickle your fancy!
Summer solstice, also known as June solstice, happens when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun. This astronomical event marks the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, indicating the longest daytime due to a lengthened exposure to direct sunlight. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong , those in the Northern Hemisphere may experience “almost 17 hours of daytime.”
Quitlong explained that solstices happen twice a year – the summer solstice in June and the winter solstice every December. The word solstice is derived from the Latin word “solstitium” meaning “sun standing still.”
Don’t miss the full moon tonight! Since 1967, this is the first time that the fully illuminated moon coincided with the summer solstice.
Despite its name, the moon will not turn pink tonight. The strawberry moon was named such by North America’s Algoquin Tribe because for them, June’s full moon signaled the start of strawberry-picking season. A strawberry moon glows a strange amber color. In some places like Europe, it is referred to as the rose moon or honey moon.
One would not want to miss this rare event as this will not happen again until 2062. Take this opportunity to gaze at the sky tonight and enjoy the view of this uncommon lunar sighting!
Solstice and the Stonehenge
A popular place during the summer solstice is the Stonehenge where Pagans celebrate the longest day of the year. The view is especially spectacular as the sun reaches the middle of the stones.
Built between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge is a big stone monument located in a plain of Salisbury, England. It is believed that the Stonehenge was aligned carefully for a person to have a clear view of the summer solstice rising in the horizon.
The real reason behind the creation of this landscape remains a mystery, but what is certain is that over the year, it has been part of celebrations during the summer solstice. In 2014, almost 40,000 participated and visited the Stonehenge during the said occasion.
Be ready for a longer time of fun under the sun as the summer solstice sets in on June 22, 2015.
This annual astronomical event pertains to the longest daytime in the northern hemisphere and the opposite in the southern hemisphere where Winter Solstice will take place.
According to Engr. Dario dela Cruz, Chief of the Space Sciences and Astronomy Section of PAGASA, Summer Solstice in the Philippines will begin at 12:38 AM (Philippine Standard Time).
The said phenomenon marks the start of summer in the United States and other countries situated in higher latitudes. However, the opposite happens in the Philippines where the rainy season is just about to begin since it is near the equator.
During the Summer Solstice, the sun attains its greatest declination of +23.5 degrees and passes directly overhead at noon at a latitude of 23.5 degrees north, which is known as the Tropic of Cancer. This event marks the start of the apparent southward movement of the Sun in the ecliptic, dela Cruz added.
At this time, the sun appears at its highest elevation caused by the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun. This is when the northern hemisphere leans nearest to the sun.
Aside from the solstices that occur during June and December, we also experience equinoxes in the months of March and September, which result to an approximately equal duration of night and daytime. (link to past article re equinox)
The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol, which means “sun,” and sistere meaning to “stand still.” Therefore, solstice literally translates into “the sun stands still.”