The Summer Solstice
- Wednesday, June 20, 2007
At the North Pole, the "days" are six months long. The Sun rises on the Equinox in March, and sets on the Equinox in September. The June solstice is the "Noon" of this six-month polar day. On this day, the Sun reaches it's highest point in the polar sky, 23 1/2 degrees above the horizon.
Meanwhile, at the South Pole, the June solstice is the "Midnight" of the six-month polar night, and the Sun cannot be seen at all from here during June. At the Antarctic Circle, nightime is 24 hours in length. The Antarctic Sun can be seen briefly rising Due North, and promptly setting from the same place. The Antarctic Circle is at latitude 66 1/2 degrees South, which is 23 1/2 degrees from the South Pole.
For folks in the Southern Hemisphere, the June solstice is the shortest day of the year. As one moves North from the Antarctic Circle, the period of daylight is longer, but it will still be shorter than 12 hours on this day.
After the June solstice, the Sun will turn South again through the sky. A half-year from now, on the December solstice, the Sun will reach a declination of 23 1/2 degrees South. On this day, the Sun will pass directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitude 23 1/2 degrees South. And on this day, the Southern Hemisphere will have its longest day, while the Northern Hemisphere will have its "First Day of Winter."
You might want to use a globe to help visualize these variations in latitude.
This article is from the Classical Astronomy Update, a free email newsletter for Christian homeschoolers. Jay Ryan is also the author of "Signs & Seasons," an astronomy homeschool curriculum. For more information, visit his web site www.ClassicalAstronomy.com.
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