Midsummer’s Day

Stonehenge-Jun-20-BlogToday is the longest day of the year. The Sun rose at 4.43 and will not go down until 21.21 – the day is more than twice the length of the night. Why? Because it’s the summer solstice, otherwise known as Midsummer’s Day. So, is it the middle of summer then? No, it’s actually the first day of summer. Confused? Don’t be – you can rely on the team here at Education Quizzes to shed some light on the matter.

Did you know that the Earth is tilted? Look on any globe and you’ll see that the North Pole doesn’t point directly upwards – instead it leans to one side. Now, once a year that tilt is pointing towards the Sun. When this happens the day is at its longest in the Northern Hemisphere. The opposite is true in the Southern Hemisphere – it is pointing away from the Sun so today is their midwinter and the shortest day.

If you thought that 8 and a half hours of sunlight made a long day, then spare a thought for those living in the Arctic Circle. The closer you get to the North Pole, the longer the day. In parts of Sweden, Midsummer’s Day lasts for 60 days, in Norway for 4 months and at the North Pole itself, for 6 months!

Our ancient ancestors worshipped the Sun as a god so the solstice was an important date for them. It was their god’s most powerful day before his power weakened and the days got shorter. It’s thought that Stonehenge in Wiltshire was built as a place to mark both the summer and the winter solstices. Even today, many people like to gather there to welcome the Sun as it rises on the solstice morning.

If you are interested in the solstice and other astronomical matters, you might want to have a look at the Time and Date website. They’ll tell you the times for sunrise and sunset or position of the planets on any given date and lots of other interesting stuff besides.

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