June 20th is the June Solstice

June 20: start of summer on the northern hemisphere
June 20: start of summer on the northern hemisphere

June 20th is the June solstice– the day that our sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky as seen from earth. Of course, the sun really doesn’t move; it’s the earth that orbits around the sun.

It’s a common misconception that the solstice is caused by the earth being closer to the sun in its orbit, which almost couldn’t be further from the truth– or the sun.  At least on the northern hemisphere as aphelion, or, the point in the earth’s orbit when it’s farthest from the sun. The earth is at its closest point to the sun in January.

But back to the June solstice.

Seasons here on earth are caused by the earth’s tilt– 23.5 degrees to be exact.  the tilt of the earth varies over time, as the earth wobbles on its axis like a spinning top. The tilt of the earth means that on the June solstice, the northern hemisphere receives the most daylight of the year. North of the arctic circle, the sun will not set. It also means the longest night and shortest period of daylight this year for the southern hemisphere.

Another common misconception about the solstice is that it’s the hottest day of the year.  this in not true. Many ancient cultures practiced lighting bonfires on the solstice, said to bring good luck According to pagan folklore, protective garlands of flowers and herbs were worn to ward off evil spirits that would appear on the summer solstice. Some people also believe that if you make a wish while watching the sun rise or set on the solstice, it will come true.  That one is up to you to find out.

June 20th marks the official start of summer on the northern hemisphere.