Why summer starts today, and why it’s the longest period of daylight….but not the hottest.
Today, June 21, 2010 is officially the first day of summer in the Northen Hemisphere, and is the longest day of sunlight.
The summer solstice is a result of the Earth’s north-south axis being tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the sun. The tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet.
The Equator is the line on which the days are the same length, i.e. 12 hours, every day of the year. Everywhere else, this occurs only on the equinoxes. The Tropics of Cancer and of Capricorn, are lines on which the sun is directly overhead exactly once a year: on the northern summer solstice for Cancer and on the southern summer solstice for Capricorn. In the area between the two tropics — i.e. the tropic zones, which includes the equator — the sun is directly overhead exactly twice per year!
On the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives more sunlight than on any other day of the year, but that doesn’t mean the first day of summer is also the hottest day of summer. The Earth’s oceans and atmosphere act like heat sinks, absorbing and re-radiating the sun’s rays over time. So even though the planet is absorbing lots of sunlight on the summer solstice, it takes several weeks to release it. As a result, the hottest days of summer usually occur in July or August.
So today, if you’re in the Northern hemisphere you will experience the longest day of sunlight. So go out and enjoy the day!! 🙂
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Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI
2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors