JACKSON, Wyo. — Happy Summer Solstice! Today, June 21, marks the first day of summer in Jackson Hole and the longest day of the year with 15 hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds of daylight.
In the northern hemisphere, the June solstice marks the start of the summer season and depending on your location it occurs between June 20 and June 22 annually.
In Jackson, the solstice occurred at 3:13 a.m. today and the sun will reach its highest point in the sky at 1:24 p.m. In terms of daylight, this day is 6 hours, 28 minutes longer than the December solstice. In most locations north of the equator, the longest day of the year is around this date.
While today is the longest day of the year, the latest sunsets will be between June 25 and June 28 at 9:08 p.m. The latest last light or Astronomical dusk is between June 20 and June 26 at 11:29 p.m., according to timeanddate.com.
The term solstice comes from the Latin words sol and sistere, meaning “Sun” and “to stand still.”
What is a solstice?
According to National Geographic, solstices occur because Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted about 23.4 degrees relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun. This tilt drives Earth’s seasons, as the Northern and Southern Hemispheres get unequal amounts of sunlight over the course of a year. From March to September, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted more toward the sun, driving its spring and summer. From September to March, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away, so it feels like autumn and winter. The Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are reversed.
Two moments each year, the December solstice and June solstice, Earth’s axis is tilted most closely toward the sun. The hemisphere tilted most toward the sun sees its longest day, while the hemisphere tilted away from the sun sees its longest night.
“A common misconception is that the changing of seasons is due to the distance from the earth to the sun that changes throughout the year, however, it actually has nothing to do with distance,” Samuel Singer, executive director of Wyoming Stargazers told Buckrail during the winter solstice.
In the summer, the sun spends more hours in the sky, so there are more hours for the sun to heat the earth, thus we get warmer in the summertime and colder in the wintertime.
“Length of days and angles of rays, but nothing to do with how far away,” said Singer.
Be sure to send your summer solstice photos to Buckrail to be featured in an upcoming “SNAPPED.”